Education is key to animal welfare in live exports: researcher
A Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic believes there have been improvements in the welfare of animals involved in live sheep and cattle exports in Indonesia.
In a project funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Dr Rebecca Doyle from the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at CSU in Wagga Wagga, is developing training programs to improve the welfare of animals involved in live exports in Indonesia.
"We are working on training packages which — when completed — can then be delivered to animal welfare officers throughout the supply chain such as in a feedlot or abattoir or trucking company," Dr Doyle said.
"Those officers will then have the knowledge to go and deliver a simplified version of the training to staff.
"This cascading affect of the training programs aims to increase the animal welfare concept and importance of animal welfare in each organisation involved in the live export trade.
"I tested an animal welfare training package in Indonesia in October," she said.
"The pilot program, focusing on cattle, was well received. A similar training program will be developed for sheep in the Middle East.
"The positive developments in animal welfare includes the wider recognition of stunning of the animal prior to slaughter — including by the Halal acreditation body in Indonesia.
"In the past 12 months in Indonesia, there has been a greater understanding of animal welfare. During my most recent visit there, I detected a better understanding of the issues.
"An important focus of the training program I am working on is that it focuses on the international animal welfare guidelines set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). It is not a case of enforcing Australian rules or standards throughout the region but rather adopting a collaborative approach to improve standards in other countries."
Dr Doyle highlighted the positive role the federal Department of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries monitoring is playing in lifting standards via the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, which allows the animals to be traced from when they are loaded on ship to slaughter.
"The education process to improve animal welfare in live exports is a gradual one.
"Australia can have a positive influence on animal welfare and as a result has a significant role in the region."