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‘Floating feedlots’: Billions of suffering animals spending weeks at sea on Australian ships not fit for purpose

Billions of cattle and sheep are forced to stand on metal floors for as long as 40 days, sick and injured and left to die. Many so overheated they are literally cooking from the inside.

NAOMI LARSSON: ‘The live export trade carrying millions of sheep and cattle across the seas each year is plagued by “old” and “inferior” ships that are a threat to animal welfare, claims a leading shipping company. Livestock carriers are a key part of the multibillion dollar live export industry, dominated by Australia, South America and Europe. In 2017, almost 2 billion animals were exported in a trade worth $21bn (£15bn), with a significant proportion travelling by sea.

But most of the ships are old car carriers or other former cargo ships, rather than purpose-built vessels that can meet higher standards of animal welfare, said Wellard, one of the world’s largest livestock exporters, based in Australia… Most ships were converted from general cargo or “roll on roll off” (RoRo) vessels, meaning ships that have been designed to carry wheeled cargo…

A spokesperson for the company, which shipped nearly 400,000 cattle in 2019, said: “The biggest threat to the global live export industry is old ships. They have inferior standards and livestock services and they are more prone to accidents and breakdowns. Those ships give a bad name to a legitimate industry”…

The practice of transporting thousands of live animals (some ships carry more than 10,000 animals) across the sea for weeks at a time means attention must be paid to the welfare of animals. Older ships were not built for this purpose, which raises concerns. The most common health risks for animals on ships are fatigue, heat stress, overcrowding and related injuries, and the spread of disease.

Lynn Simpson, a former veterinarian on livestock export ships, has been a vocal critic of the long-distance ship trade. She’s witnessed cattle forced to stand on hard floors for weeks on end, sick, injured animals left to die, and sheep literally cooking from the inside with their “fat melted and like a translucent jelly”. “Some animals are held on decks for as long as 40 days, living on hard decking of concrete and metal. They [the animals] are not built to cope with these environments,” said Simpson’.  SOURCE…

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