Livestock Welfare Matters

Livestock Welfare Matters is a quarterly e-newsletter from RSPCA WA directly to people in agriculture in Western Australia. 

The farming community in WA are important stakeholders for us. At a time when interest in and awareness of animal welfare is increasing among the general public, it is imperative to improve communication between RSPCA WA and livestock producers.

Through Livestock Welfare Matters we plan to reach you directly with information on a wide range of animal welfare topics. 

To sign up for the Livestock Welfare Matters Newsletter, send an email to



Winter Edition - June 2018

In this issue, you will find information about the live export industry, the impact of heat stress on sheep, proposed new regulations for dog breeding, and welfare improvements for meat chickens.

There is no doubt that the biggest topic under discussion is the long-haul export of live sheep from WA to the Middle East. 

The RSPCA has been opposed to this trade for 40 years - ever since its inception. Our position is determined purely on animal welfare grounds which aligns with the reason the RSPCA exists which is to prevent cruelty to animals. 

After years of advocacy and with very little improvement to standards or indeed enforcement of LE standards, farmers find themselves supplying an industry that is now on the nose with the public, a situation that the exporters have brought upon themselves.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an opinion piece about the industry and its future which was published on WA Today. 

In the piece, I put forward the RSPCA’s position that the industry is inherently cruel because no matter what the stocking density on board the ships, sheep will suffer heat stress due to the high temperatures and humidity in the Middle East if they are exported there between May and October. Our position is mirrored by the Australian Veterinary Association which says live export of sheep to the Middle East during those months cannot be recommended.

The live export industry is in decline on both animal welfare and economic grounds. Another aspect to the almost certain demise of live sheep exports is the loss of trust in the industry by the broader Australian community. 

Any sheep farmer seeing the shocking conditions on the Awassi Express would have been horrified to see their animals end up like that in the hands of the export company. When previous incidents of cruelty in the live sheep trade have been exposed, and that has happened many times over the past three decades, farmers have been insulated in the public mind from the controversy.  However, there are signs that the general public’s loss of trust in the industry as a whole is now increasingly including farmers who supply the export companies with animals.

The Australian public has generally supported farming and viewed farmers with great respect. I believe there is no option now but for farmers to distance themselves from this cruel trade.

The Australian public has made up its mind about the industry. It will end. I sincerely hope it’s death throes will not damage the good reputation of farmers as well.

Lynne Bradshaw AM


Successful communication is a two way street and we hope you will provide comment and feedback on items in this e-news and any other topics you would like to hear from us about in future. You can write to us at or call us on 9209 9300. 

And, you can also check out our new Animals in Agriculture section on our RSPCA WA website.

Visit the archive of Livestock Welfare Matters articles.