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Wednesday 17 October 2012

Hell? No.

I was asked the other day by an opponent of the live trade how I justified sending our animals overseas. They’d read this blog and formed the opinion we look after our stock, but couldn’t understand why we continue to send them in light of all the bad news stories airing about lately. This was my reply.

Glad you liked it. That site is my hobby. The way I see it is this. I've been on a farm since I was born. I'm 32. In that time I've seen sheep burned alive by bushfire, washed away and drowned by downpours, I've come across ewes with their entrails hanging out after being mauled by wild dogs. I've seen a weaner lamb still alive after having his back leg eaten by a fox. I've seen lambs picked up and dropped from heights by wedge tailed eagles, then get up and try to flee with their backs broken. I've seen sheep literally shit themselves to death from salmonella or coccidious, despite our best efforts to treat them. I've seen the fattest, most healthiest looking sheep choke on their own kidneys as their bubble up through their throats from pulpy kidney disease, caused simply by being too greedy and getting a gutsful of feed. I've seen a nanny goat being rooted to death by ten or more billy goats in the wild. Kangaroos blind from disease slowly starving as they bash themselves to bits on trees and shrubs as they try to make their way to water. I've seen hordes of emus breed up in good years, only to starve to death in bad. And I'm only relatively young, so imagine what my parents and their parents have seen. If my sheep pass out in 5 - 10 seconds or worst case a minute from a poorly executed cull or slaughter, they may not be as lucky as those killed here, but tell you what, their fate would be my 2nd choice. Just cos you die naturally, doesn't mean you die well.

And that’s it in a nutshell. Knowing what I know about sheep, if the ships were the crammed Hell holes they are claimed to be, by the time the three week journey was over, the sheep would all be dead. And no customer is going to buy dead, or half starved, stressed and sick animals, especially at the price they’d be charged for them.

Yes, I would like all stock to be stunned. But having cut a few throats myself, and witnessed more than one Muslim family kill their own animals, I don’t have a problem with it. Other may disagree, as is their right, but that’s where I stand. We raise animals knowing full well they will end up on somebodies dinner plate.
In the last 16 months of banging away at the keyboard, not one person has been able to name me one other country that spends money on trying to improve welfare practises in overseas countries. 109 countries export live animals.But it seems more and more likely that the only one actively doing anything to better things over there is going to be the one not allowed to send anymore. Out of sight, out of mind I guess.

Give me half a day with some football footage and I could make you a video claiming that football (or any sport) is a brutal, horrific game that results in countless injuries and even the occasional death. None of the footage would be fake, and Michael Barlows broken leg last year would be the Pièce de résistance. Add in some sad, scary music, a few disgruntled ex-footballers and whammo. Who knows, I might even win a Walkley.


Raelene Hall said...

Excellent summary of how life on a farm works Michael. This is reality. We are not cruel but we breed animals as a business. LIke or not that is a reality. Another reality is that people across the world want to eat meat as is their right and someone is going to supply that meat to them.

Fiona said...

Good on you Michael. It seems implausible that we all work as hard as we do to feed the world, and in the past couple of years now have to work harder to defend our right to do so.

Unknown said...

Another great article MT. agree 100%. Put a camera in my house for long enough and edit the footage in a certain way and I would lose my cat, dog and kids. A picture tells a 1,000 words, unfortunately.

Farm Life with Erin said...

As farmers we manage life and respectively take life to improve another living thing. We convert natural resources into the essentials of life. Food, fibre, pharmaceuticals and fuel. We respectively harvest plants and animals to improve living things.

JournoBess said...

Well said Michael. That's summed up my thoughts over the last 16 months too.

BB said...

Brilliant... so VERY true.

Trouble is that people (in general, esp those who don't deal with livestock on a regular basis) are so far removed from the breeding, growing, caring for, and preparing-for-plate process have the luxury of NOT having to witness any of it. And many are now totally over-sensitised to the idea of slaughter really at any level.

I think most people (given the chance) grasp the reality well and can filter the 'information' blasted at them. There are always going to be some to whom eating meat will always be unjustifiable. I am not against vegetarians, but I will stand strong against activitists who bend the truth to suit their sensibilities. Beside you.

We help feed the world. And we do it bloody well. Let's get on with it (hopefully with the support of the vast majority of Aussies).

Anonymous said...

Ditto to all of the above. The public need to know the whole story & not just the one sided sensationalism from the press & hype from extreamists groups. Seb.

Gemma Lee Steere said...

Great summary Michael. I always like to read your point of view and I find this way of looking at the death of an animal interesting, different and very true.

Keep up the championing.

Yvonne said...

I am sure we would have the same reaction here if we took someone out while we did a "killer". It is so very confronting if you have not been exposed to it before, but it is a fact of life and how we obtain our meat. I think you have written this so well Michael, and it is so true, if we are not paid for the livestock until they land in the country we would all be bankrupt if we did not look after them well.
Good on you!!!

bonny-act said...

i support our farmers, my husbands family is a farming family for 2 generations, over dinner they even admit to having distaste for live exporting of sheep and cattle. live export farming is sending animals to unknowns. one only has to view the footage and the outcome of pakistan, and having been to egypt which i assume you may not have been, i would not send an enemy to face death in this place. this market and many more are just cruel places where none of your animals should end up.