PRESS RELEASE: Sickening cruelty again uncovered in Victorian slaughterhouse




Shocking and systemic abuse of animals has been uncovered in a major Victorian abattoir for the second time in three years, prompting calls for mandatory CCTV cameras to be installed in all of the state’s slaughterhouses.

Animals Australia was provided with hours of footage which depicts a catalogue of daily horrors for pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and just days-old dairy calves at Riverside Meats in Echuca.

“There is an obvious culture of violence, disrespect and abuse of animals in this slaughterhouse. The vision shows equipment designed to reduce suffering instead being used as torture devices inflicting dreadful cruelty,” said Glenys Oogjes, Animals Australia’s Executive Director.

In one of the worst examples of abuse, a pig in a cattle restraint box suffered four shots from a captive bolt gun, then was shot twice with a rifle, the ordeal lasting over 6 minutes.

The more than 1,200 video files submitted to Primesafe – the regulator overseeing abattoirs - for investigation also reveal:

  • Calves and sheep being violently stabbed in the neck, face and head with the metal prongs of an electric stunning device. Many being stabbed deeply, multiple times.
  • The routine misplacement of stunning equipment, likely resulting in many animals being electrocuted and paralysed but fully conscious and sensible to pain whilst slaughtered.
  • Smoke billowing from the animals as the electric prongs pierce their head and neck, revealing equipment is overheating, causing further suffering on still conscious animals.
  • Dairy calves and sheep escaping from the restraint device, falling onto the kill floor, and walking over dead and dying animals.
  • Workers beating confused baby dairy calves to move them to slaughter.
  • Workers responding to fearful and panicked animals by beating them, swearing at them, laughing at them and roughly throwing them back onto the kill table.
  • Distressed cattle attempting to jump out of the metal slaughter restraint box.

This is the second time Riverside Meats has been the subject of a government investigation. In 2013, Animals Australia lodged disturbing evidence of dairy calves being beaten, thrown and shocked with electric prodders. The authorities gave formal warnings to some workers, the owners promised infrastructure and training upgrades, and Primesafe increased its audit regime.

“It’s alarming that such systemic and shocking practices have become entrenched at a facility that has already been investigated for animal cruelty,” said Ms Oogjes.

“Fear and stress are already heightened for animals in the slaughterhouse environment so to increase their trauma and pain through incompetence and a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude is disgraceful.”

Many dairy calves in the footage showed signs of consciousness when their throats were cut due to incorrect stunning procedures. Not a single calf in the footage was stunned in the correct position – effectively rendering them all at risk of paralysis, but not insensible to pain.

“A stunning device in the wrong hands, or used incorrectly, becomes a weapon. The pain and extended suffering endured by these animals is totally inexcusable especially given the history of this abattoir.”

“If this is what’s happening in an abattoir that should be under increased scrutiny, we can have no confidence whatsoever that similar abuses, or worse, are not occurring in other slaughterhouses throughout Victoria.”

Animals Australia has written to the Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, calling for the introduction of CCTV cameras in all abattoirs and for footage to be independently monitored, with full (online) streaming access available to enforcement authorities.

“Once again we are seeing that wherever eyes aren’t watching, animals are at risk of extreme cruelty. Only the presence of independently monitored cameras will actively discourage workers from engaging in cruel behaviour and ensure management maintains proper oversight of employees and practices,” said Ms Oogjes.



Lisa Zilberpriver
0447 011 409
[email protected]


Want to stay informed?

If you're keen to have your finger on the pulse of animal protection in Australia, we invite you to become an Animals Australia Insider. As an insider, we’ll send you time-sensitive press releases and other important announcements that we publish in between our scheduled e-updates.

Become an Animals Australia Insider

Love animals? Subscribe and help end animal abuse:
Like Animals Australia On Facebook
Make a difference for animals...