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Live Sheep Exports
Most deaths occur at SeaThe majority of deaths recorded in the live sheep trade occur during the sea voyage. Of these deaths, 47 per cent are by starvation (euphemistically referred to in government publications as "shy-feeding syndrome", "inanition" or "failure to eat") despite the feedlotting period prior to loading (older sheep and those animals coming from green pastures are less likely to switch successfully to the pellet diet and so many starve). The rest of the deaths are due to salmonellosis - mostly aggravated by inadequate feed intake (12.2 per cent).
Survivors die upon arrival.After the sheep ship has arrived at its destination, and is stationary with air flow at a minimum, high temperatures and humidity take their toll, particularly where unloading occurs at several ports, or "where inadequate facilities slow the unloading rate.
Upon unloading, some animals will be taken straight to the slaughterhouse, the others will be feedlotted again.
In the early 1990s research reports showed that some 3% of sheep die in the feedlots.
Taking into account the sheep who die in feedlots in the Middle East, the real number of sheep deaths in a year may be nearer 150,000.
Sheep Statistics: Mortality 1981 - 2002Australia to the Middle East [includes loading, voyage, discharge] and small numbers to other countries incl. Mexico, Pakistan and S.E.Asia.
Note: Figures compiled by Animals Australia from Dept of Transport records, and since 1989 from Western Australian Department of Agriculture Summary Information.
* Very small numbers to SE Asia included. ** Estimate based on official death rate provided.
Sheep Export "Incidents"
1980The total cargo (40,605 sheep) perish in a fire aboard the Farid Fares.
1980Disease outbreak causes the death of 2,713 sheep on the Kahleej Express.
1981635 sheep die in the transfer from the Kahleej Express to the A1 Shuuwaikh.
19818,764 sheep perished onboard The Persia from ventilation breakdown.
198315,000 sheep die from exposure in Portland feedlots while waiting loading.
1984Ventilation breakdown in the Mukairish Althaleth causes the death of 70 sheep each day.
198515,000 sheep die of heat exhaustion on board the Fernanda F.
1989-90Many Australian shipments rejected due to claims of scabby mouth and other diseases, by Saudi Arabia. Death rates on board soared to an average of 6% as sheep waited on board ships languishing outside ports or en route to alternative ports.
1990One rejected ship, the Mawashi AI Gasseem was forced to stay on the water for 16 weeks before a country would accept its remaining sheep.
1990The "state of the art" Cormo Express left New Zealand in May 1990 and almost 10,000 sheep died en route to the Middle East due to inadequate ventilation causing heat stroke, pneumonia, other diseases and failure to eat.
1991At the end of the Iran/Iraq war, Australian sheep arrived in war-devastated Kuwait and some 30,000 sheep died from heat stroke and dehydration due to poor infrastructure and feedlot facilities.
1991Published studies show death rates in Middle East feedlots to be, on average, 3 per cent over the 3-week holding period.
1992Published figures show increased on-board death rates, rising to almost 3 per cent, the rise being attributed mainly due a large number of ships unloading at more than one Middle East port.
199667,488 sheep died when fire broke out on board the Uniceb; 8 days elapsed before any rescue attempt was made.
2002The MV Becrux, on its maiden voyage boasting the ability to provide the highest standard of animal welfare, carried 60,000 sheep and 1,995 cattle from Portland Victoria to Saudi Arabia. 1,400 sheep died along with 880 cattle after the vessel met high temperatures (45 degrees) and humidity in the Arabian Gulf.
2002In July and August 4 shipments of sheep recorded high death rates during export to the Middle East, and a total of 15,156 sheep died during the voyage and discharge phase. Cormo Express: 1064 sheep died, Corriedale Express: 6119 sheep died, Al Shuwaikh: 5,800 sheep died, and Al Messilah: 2173 sheep died. AMSA/AFFA and AQIS are conducting 4 separate inquiries. At least one ship has been allowed to load more sheep and leave for the ME before any reports are completed, albeit with an AQIS vet on board.