How the dairy industry takes advantage of a live export loophole…

Commercial dairying is cruel enough already, with forced separation and sorrow scarring the life of an Australian dairy cow. The dairy industry takes her calves, often to slaughter them as 'waste products'. The dairy industry takes her milk and sells it. And for some young cows, the dairy industry even takes away 'home'...

LAST UPDATED: 3 September 2020

She's put on to a truck. The truck drives her to a port, with all its unfamiliar sounds and smells, and she's loaded onto a huge ship to be sent overseas. She's exposed to all the risks of live export — while pregnant.

Public outcry about the terrible abuse of Australian animals in overseas slaughterhouses forced reforms on the live export industry (known as ESCAS). But animals exported for breeding or dairy purposes — including cows, sheep, buffalo and goats — are excluded from even these most basic rules and protections.

The Australian dairy industry exports 90,000 Australian dairy cows live each year, for their milk and to build up overseas dairy herds. Most of these sensitive young animals are pregnant during the voyage. Denied even the basic protections that have been extended to animals exported for slaughter, these 'forgotten animals' are left utterly exposed to cruelty once they reach the importing country.

This can have devastating consequences, as it did for Australian dairy cows who perished of thirst and malnutrition on a property in Qatar — where thousands of Australian sheep had already died from heat stress and starvation. No one was ever held accountable for their agonising deaths.

More recently, a government-backed deal to set up dairy farms in Sri Lanka turned into a human and animal welfare disaster, resulting in hundreds of cows dead and many more emaciated and sick with disease. Local farmers, who were promised nutritional advice and technical support by Australian export company Wellard, reported that they they were left struggling to care for their animals — and their own families.

And in 2018, shocked locals near a Victorian port were horrified when they witnessed a live export ship swaying dangerously while attempting to sail out to sea. The converted cargo ship was rocking violently with more than 4,000 pregnant dairy cows on board. 

In 2018, more than 4,000 pregnant cows were trapped on this dangerously unstable live export ship as it attempted to leave Portland, Victoria.

A 2013 government review stated that extending breeding animals even the minimal protection expected for animals exported for slaughter would 'outweigh the value of the trade'. In other words: a less-cruel trade wouldn’t be profitable.

A dairy cow who suffered and died on board a live export shipDying dairy calf in QatarDead dairy cow after being exported to QatarStarving calf exported to Sri Lanka unable to standSeverely emaciated cows after being exported from Australia to Sri Lanka
Dr Lynn Simpson
Dead dairy cow on live export ship

How to help dairy cows today:

BREAKING: Tragically, a live export ship carrying 5,800 pregnant dairy cows from new Zealand to China is now missing after sailing into a Typhoon. All of the animals are presumed drowned. Now is a vital time to join the calls of our friends at SAFE to permanently end all live animal exports from New Zealand:

Speak up for dairy cows »

Live export only makes dairy crueller. Learn how the dairy industry hurts cows and their calves, and help create a bright future for them by joining the growing number of Aussies enjoying delicious dairy-free foods.

Love animals? Subscribe and help end animal abuse:
I've read and accept the privacy policy
Like Animals Australia On Facebook
We all know that eating vegan is better for your health, animals and the planet. But sometimes you just want a big bowl of the hearty, familiar foods you know and love. These recipes are for you. Dig in » »

Our appetite for beef, dairy and fish is wiping out wild animals, and even threatening our own survival. Discover why » »

Lyn White, Campaign Director at Animals Australia, spoke to audiences across the country — and asked one simple question: 'Does history have to repeat itself or is it possible to have a kinder, more peace... Watch now » »

What contributes more to climate change than all the world’s planes, trains and automobiles combined? Hint: it’s not coal and it’s not good for humanity! Read more » »

What began as a basic love for animals led Ian to find a passion for rescuing roos and other beloved Aussie natives. Read more » »

Investigations have revealed widespread puppy factory cruelty in Australia. Discover the truth, and what you can do to help. Read more » »

Love a documentary that opens your eyes and expands your mind? These are definitely for you ... Expand your mind » »

Despite the nightly news doing its best to depress, from Australia to Brazil, China to Norway, there is one trait that unites humankind all over the world — kindness. Read on to discover some of the best animal... Be inspired » »

For the first time, an Australian organisation has been selected as a “standout charity” by U.S.-based Animal Charity Evaluators! Animals Australia has been awarded this evaluation in recognition of our efforts... Read more » »

The sun on their faces. The grass under their feet. A spring in their step. All animals deserve freedom. Watch the heartwarming video now. Watch the heart-warming video » »