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Australia exporting live sheep to an often cruel death

News Section Icon Published 19/11/2010

Each year Australia exports more than three million live sheep, almost all of them to the Middle East. Compassion has long documented the suffering involved in their transportation. Now, new evidence has emerged showing incidences of inhumane treatment and slaughter at their journeys' end.

Animals Australia has documented the cruel treatment and rough handling of Australian sheep exported to Kuwait and Bahrain for sacrifice during the three day festival of Eid al Adha. They found sheep trussed up and manhandled into car boots; cases of sheep left lying across the bodies of other bloodied, dying animals. Finally, after all this suffering, the animals' throats are cut while still fully conscious.

Nightmare journey

Sheep exported live from Australia to the Middle East often suffer greatly during the long journeys at sea. Conditions on board can be be overcrowded and insanitary. They endure extremely high temperatures often up to 35-40°C. or more in the Middle East summer, and ventilation in the hold (below the main deck) can be very poor.

Around 30,000 sheep die in transport every year - in some years the death toll is higher - during the long sea journeys, mostly from disease, trauma or a failure to eat.


Compassion believes animals should be slaughtered as close as possible to where they were reared, to avoid the suffering involved in transportation and the risk of injury and death during export. The export of live animals is unnecessary.

The live transportation of sheep from Australia to the Middle East is not confined to the period surrounding Eid.

There is great concern about the trade in Australia and the Council of Fremantle, a major Australian animal exports port, has called for an end to it. The Australian live exports industry has worked on 'slaughter improvement' measures in certain countries to which they send Australian animals. The evidence from Animals Australia shows that this is failing.

Compassion calls on the Australian government and its livestock industry to bring an end once and for all to so much animal suffering.

Warning - graphic images

To see the images from Animals Australia's investigation, click here. Please be warned that some people may find them distressing.

What you can do

Please email or write to the Australian Prime Minister Hon Julia Gillard MP, and Agriculture Minister Hon Joe Ludwig. Please urge them to end the live exports of Australian farm animals in view of the suffering caused by long journeys and the risk of severe mishandling and inhumane slaughter of the animals after these appalling journeys. There is a template letter here but it can be more effective if you wish to personalise it.

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Email the Hon Julia Gillard MP

Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Waterfront Place,
1 Eagle Street
Brisbane Qld 4000

Email Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig

More information


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