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Animal welfare initiatives

Wellard leads by example in the continual quest to improve animal welfare across the live export industry.

The company’s improvements to its own operations and procedures include:

  • Investment in new shipping;
  • On board improvements;
  • End market improvements;
  • Pre-export initiatives.

Wellard Rural Exports is committed to animal welfare in the live export trade, not just because it makes good commercial sense to deliver healthy and fit livestock to their destination, but because we care about the livestock in our care.

Investment in new shipping

Investment in modern, technologically advanced vessels is vital to deliver the best ship-board animal welfare outcomes. Wellard leads the industry in the investment in new livestock vessel tonnage and technology.

In 2010 the company launched two, new, state of the art, technologically advanced livestock carriers. The MV Ocean Swagman and the MV Ocean Outback were designed and constructed to provide new levels of animal welfare through a range of initiatives ranging from improved ventilation systems to dual, independent propulsion systems.

On-board animal welfare improvements

The management of livestock on-board a vessel is crucial.

In addition to meeting, or exceeding, the Australian regulatory requirements for vets and stockmen on-board each voyage, Wellard has implemented its own programs to maximise on-board animal welfare including:

  • The vessels’ on-board crew provides animal welfare and husbandry skills on the vessel. To improve that standard of care, Wellard identifies and selects crew to undertake additional independent training, assessment and accreditation in animal handling;
  • An animal welfare officer is appointed by Wellard to oversee each voyage. That person is responsible for ensuring animal welfare is optimised on that voyage.

End market improvements

Wellard’s commitment to animal welfare does not end when our sheep and cattle step off the vessel at their destination.

The company is working closely with overseas customers to improve animal welfare outcomes. This is in addition to the work being conducted by Meat and Livestock Australia in this area.

Examples of our work include:

  • To improve international feedlot and overland transport systems, Wellard has established a consultancy to both its own and new overseas-based clients to provide advice and strategies to improve animal welfare outcomes through improved standards, procedures and infrastructure;
  • Wellard has leased a feedlot in Saudi Arabia in a joint venture with one of its importers, to give the company greater control over animal welfare standards in the region and to set a benchmark for other exporters to follow;
  • In 2008 Wellard purchased a custom built light truck for one of its major customers, Al Batina Livestock, in Oman. The truck delivers sheep from the Al Batina’s feedlot to small customers who are unable to provide the quality of transport expected by western standards.  

Pre-export improvements

In addition to export and post-export, the selection and preparation of animals prior to consignment has a large influence on animal welfare.

While Australian live export regulations govern standards in these areas, Wellard has implemented its own initiatives including:

  • Wellard previously entered into a $500,000 partnership with Murdoch University to fund the Wellard Senior Lecturer for Leadership in Animal Health and Production;
  • Wellard commissioned its own independent animal welfare audit of its pre-export facilities to identify areas for improvement;
  • Wellard is investing in the upgrade of existing pre-export facilities and the development of new facilities.