Australia and Indonesia have developed a strong bilateral relationship in livestock trade that has resulted in important commercial partnerships between industries in both countries. This section of an independent report, studying animal welfare conditions, looks at transport.
The trade in Australian cattle in Indonesia was found to be transparent and the tour group received unfettered access to facilities and staff. Transport operators and those workers responsible for dispatch and receipt at abattoirs and feedlots were welcoming, cooperative and generally unperturbed by the panel‟s presence. This was found to be the case regardless of whether the visit was prearranged or impromptu.
The following in-market observations do not relate directly to the OIE Code but were considered to be important in providing context.
The transportation of Australian cattle in Indonesia was undertaken using trucks and, if required, a ferry between Sumatra and Java. Cattle reportedly remained on the truck during ferry transport which occurred by roll-on, roll-off arrangement, although this was not directly observed.
Trucks are generally small and registered to carry 3.5 to 10 tonne. Loaded trucks were observed to carry between 5 and 19 head depending on the size of the truck and cattle. Larger trucks were reportedly used on occasion to transport cattle long distances (Lampung to Medan) although these were not observed.
Land transport and the size of the trucks were constrained by the condition of the roads. Roads were observed to be narrow, congested and in need of maintenance. One rural journey of 300 km in the Lampung area was reported to take 11 hours.
Most transport was undertaken using professional trucking companies with only a few feedlots owning their own trucks.
Trucks and crates were generally not livestock-specific but rather carried a range of consignments.
Truck drivers were reportedly responsible and financially liable for the cattle they were transporting. If a beast was injured or died in transit, or was rejected by the receiver, the truck driver may be liable for the cost of that animal. This may result in the loss of one to three months wages as it was rare for drivers or their employers to carry insurance.
As a direct consequence of this liability, a high standard of cattle care was maintained during loading, unloading and trucking with drivers reportedly routinely refusing to transport unfit cattle. While this could not be verified and such intervention not observed (all transported cattle were fit to load), the welfare of cattle transported in Indonesia was generally good.
Animal handler competency was considered to be the greatest factor potentially impacting animal welfare during transport due to the number of individuals involved in the transport process and the lack of operating guidelines and enforceable standards.
Review against the OIE Code
The transportation of Australian cattle from the time they arrived in Indonesia until the point of slaughter was, wherever possible, assessed against the OIE Code. While this did not include travelling with the livestock, cattle were observed being unloaded onto trucks at the point of arrival at Lampung Port, loaded onto trucks at feedlots and while on trucks. Loading and unloading facilities as well as trucks were inspected at Lampung Port, feedlots and slaughter houses. Drivers and facility operators were interviewed regarding the process.
Measurable aspects of the OIE Code have been interpreted and extrapolated to allow performance against the OIE Code to be reviewed.
Handling of livestock
Observations of the handling of livestock during transport against the OIE Code:
- Loading and unloading procedures
- Informal procedures were in place and, in most cases, practiced daily to govern the loading and unloading of cattle. The regularity of loading and unloading helped ensure efficiency and functionality.
- Overall handling (goads, dogs, lifting or painful handling etc)
- The handling of livestock during transport was generally observed to be good. Goads and dogs were not observed to be used during transport although a goad (electric cattle prodder) was seen on the dashboard of one truck.
- Groupings of livestock and selection
- The livestock that were observed were grouped appropriately.
- Fitness for travel, handler checks etc
- Cattle were reportedly scrutinised by the driver for fitness to travel and it was said to be common practice for drivers to refuse to carry livestock that were not deemed to be fit for travel.
- The truck driver would reportedly be penalised for any cattle that did not arrive safely at their destination and they would therefore refuse to load unfit animals. A formal assessment of fitness to travel was not undertaken nor an enforceable standard observed.
- Handler skill, experience and training
- Handlers were observed to load trucks efficiently and effectively. Training was typically on the job and not formalised. Excessive noise and inappropriate placement of surplus people was observed on several occasions indicating the need for additional training.
- Behaviour of livestock (stress, aggression etc)
- The cattle that were observed on trucks and immediately following transport were calm and in good condition with the exception of one animal which had suffered an injury during transport. This was attributed to the condition of the road leading to the abattoir.
- Veterinary assistance and humane disposal (if required)
- Veterinary assistance was available upon arrival at feedlots but generally not at abattoirs. Provision for the discharge and humane disposal of livestock during transport was limited.
- Appropriate quarantine and disease control throughout journey
- Cattle from Australia were required to be quarantined upon arrival at feedlots for 14 days. Cattle were maintained as a consignment throughout transport and not grouped with other animals minimising the potential for disease transmission.
Observations relating to journey management against the OIE Code:
- Appropriate journey planning, overall management and administration
- Cattle were accompanied by a health certificate and order form in transit.
- There was little evidence of formal journey planning. During extended transportation over several days, feed and water were reportedly made available on the trucks but cattle were not offloaded.
- Cattle were not necessarily trucked during cooler times of the day.
- Duration of journey and unnecessary prolonged delays
- Most journeys were of a short distance.
- Some journeys took up to three days and there was some evidence of more detailed journey planning, including the provision of feed and water during extended transportation.
- Prolonged delays were possible due to the condition of roads and, in some cases, the need to cross the Selat Sunda between Sumatra and Java by ferry. There was little evidence of contingency or emergency planning.
- Discussion with one truck driver revealed that a journey of 300 km typically took 11 hours.
- Facilities were not available for cattle to be unloaded and rested during transport.
- Facilities provided in transport (feed, water, protection, bedding, ventilation)
- Bedding was provided in all observed trucks. This generally consisted of 15-20 cm of organic material such as rice hulls or saw dust. Some companies enforced a minimum standard with trucks turned away if ill equipped.
- There were no obvious facilities for the delivery of feed and water although this was reportedly provided by buckets being lowered into the crates.
- Animals were protected from escape through the installation of bars covering transport crates.
- Crates were generally solid walled with open tops providing some ventilation. Additional vents were observed in some but not all crates.
Facilities and equipment
Observations relating to the facilities and equipment used during transport against the OIE Code:
- Exposure to sights, smells or surfaces that may harm or stress livestock
- Bedding was used in all observed trucks.
- Some truck crate flooring was of a nonslip construction; however, this was not standard as most trucks were multipurpose.
- Crates were generally of solid wall design which minimised visual stimulation.
- Overall construction (size, ventilation, safety, lighting etc)
- Loading and unloading facilities were observed to be purpose built and fit for purpose.
- In a minority of cases, stock security was considered to be a potential issue due to the absence of side gates on the loading ramp; however, at the facilities where loading and unloading was taking place, this did not appear to present a problem.
- Loading and unloading ramps were generally well designed to allow undisrupted passage between the facilities and the trucks.
- Where vents were not provided, solid wall crate design limited ventilation although the crates were single deck and not covered. Holes had been cut in the sides of some crates to provide additional ventilation.
- The size, nature and construction of the trucks was generally observed to be fit for purpose and suited to the conditions.
- Most trucks were equipped with ladders to allow cattle to be observed from above. Others had windows from the cabin into the crate to facilitate observation in transit.
- Cleaning and disinfecting procedures and facilities
- Although the cleaning and disinfecting of trucks was not observed, trucks were generally clean, well maintained and supplied with fresh bedding. The routine cleaning of trucks was reported at one feedlot that owned its own fleet of cattle transport trucks.
Operational, commercial, religious, geographic and scientific aspects of the transport and treatment of Australian cattle for slaughter were observed, where possible, from the time of arrival in Indonesia by sea, through transportation to the feedlot, depot or breeding facility and then on to the slaughterhouse and through to slaughter. Areas for possible practice improvement that may promote an improved animal welfare outcome were identified. The observations recorded below relate to transport and represent a consensus opinion of the independent expert panel.
While the transportation of Australian cattle in Indonesia did not present a major animal welfare risk, several areas for improvement were identified and have been addressed in the recommendations. These included:
The majority of the issues identified in the assessment of transport conditions were associated with poor animal handling due to a lack of understanding of animal behaviour. Animal handlers throughout the transport process would benefit from animal handler training.
- Truck crate design and operation
Trucks used to transport cattle in Indonesia generally carry a range of cargo and are not purpose built for livestock. Animal welfare benefits would be realised by introducing operation and design guidelines for trucks carrying Australian cattle.
- Rest points
Cattle are generally transported short distances from port of entry, to feedlots and then to slaughter. Some cattle are consigned on longer journeys and there is currently little provision for these cattle to be unloaded on route. The introduction of rest points where cattle may be unloaded, fed, watered and rested would assist in the transport of cattle over long distances.