ANIMALs in food & fashion





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Hens spend their lives in artificially lit surroundings designed to maximise laying activity. Each hen has to share the cage with between 3 and 20 other hens, that can allocate space less than that of an A4 sized piece of paper per hen. This is insufficient room to act on natural instincts and behaviours like wing flapping, grooming, preening, stretching, foraging and dust bathing. They are forced to stand on wire their whole lives.

Like the broiler chickens, they are “debeaked” at a few days old with no pain relief. In factory farms this is done because when hens are confined to a cage, they often become so frustrated that they resort to pecking or bullying their cage mates. Debeaking is therefore routinely used by egg producers to limit the damage that hens can cause to one another. It is not needed when hens are given more space and the ability to fulfil natural instincts.

Flocks are sometimes force moulted, rather than being slaughtered, to reinvigorate egg-laying. This involves complete withdrawal of food (and sometimes water) for 7 to 14 days or sufficiently long to cause a body weight loss of 25 to 35%. This stimulates the hen to lose her feathers, but also reinvigorates egg-production. Some flocks may be force moulted several times.

Hens can naturally live up to 10 years, but in the egg industry they are slaughtered as soon as their egg production slows at an average of 18 months old.

Battery cages are banned in EU, UK and 7 states in the USA. New Zealand and Canada are now in their phase-out period, ending all battery cage egg production in 2022 and 2032, respectively.

The proportion of caged eggs sold in supermarkets has fallen from 75% to 49% over the past decade in Australia, demonstrating what the consumer wants.

Coles from their own brand from 2013, and Woolworths and Aldi applying the ban to all eggs from 2025.

McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks and Subway have all committed to phase out cage eggs in their stores and in the USA major companies are committing to move away from cage eggs. Almost 200 US companies have pledged to use only cage-free eggs by 2025. This list includes major grocery and fast food chains, which are collectively responsible for purchasing half of the 7 billion eggs laid monthly.




Males are not able to lay eggs and have not been selectively bred for their size or meat quality, male chicks are generally considered unsuitable for meat production, and accordingly, are slaughtered following hatching.

The permitted methods of slaughter include carbon dioxide gassing or maceration (grinding of live chicks). As many as 12 million male chicks are killed this way each year in Australia and hundreds of hundreds of millions in the USA and the rest of the world.

Briefing on hen welfare in the Australian egg industry

Unscrambled: The hidden truth of hen welfare in the Australian egg industry



About 90% of chickens in Australia and 95% in the US are raised in intensive factory farms. Current industry codes allow chickens to be stocked at densities as high as 20 birds per square metre. This leaves each fully grown chicken with personal space approximately the size of an A4 page.

High stocking densities have been shown to cause a number of welfare concerns for broiler chickens, including increased rates of mortality, diseases such as breast blisters, chronic dermatitis and leg disorders, reduced walking ability and behavioural activity, and disturbed resting patterns.

Chickens are subjected to artificial lighting for long periods to increase feeding time and productivity, and to control aggression resulting from high stocking density.

Standing on a floor increasingly comprised of their own faeces unable to see sunlight and lacking personal space, chickens kept in intensive conditions experience various issues that compromise their welfare. They are not able to perform some of their most fundamental behaviours such as roosting and nurturing their young.





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Important to note, pigs are as affectionate and intelligent as dogs. This has been backed by science and it is so much so, that some people keep them as companion pets.

In Australia, pregnant pigs are permitted by law to spend a significant portion of their lives confined to 'sow stalls'. These are small metal and concrete cages barely larger than the mother pig’s body, restricting her so she cannot even turn around. Pigs on average will be impregnated and give birth four times over two years before being killed.

After giving birth, sows are confined in a ‘farrowing crate’ that barely allows them to move to “protect” their babies for around 6 weeks. When pigs have babies in the wild they create nests and do not harm their babies. These confined crates used in factory farms are only used to maximise profit in the smallest space.

Sow stalls have been partially banned in the United Kingdom, Sweden and New Zealand, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Finland and nine US States.

Here in Australia, major retailer Coles’ own brand pork products have been sow stall free since 2013, while Woolworths has also committed to sourcing all of its fresh pork meat from farms that only use stalls for less than 10% of the sows’ gestation period.

Yet still it has not become law across Australia.




90% of pigs raised for meat are housed in factory farms. Crowded in concrete-floored pens inside shed with no natural materials.

On average there are 10 000-40 000 pigs per shed.

They have their teeth clipped and tails docked routinely with no pain relief, due to the fighting that occurs when pigs are kept this confined in unnatural environments.

1.5 billion pigs are slaughtered world-wide for their meat every year.

5 million in Australia

10.6 million in the UK

121 million in the USA

700 + million in China (1/2 the worlds pork)

Smithfield Foods Inc., currently the world’s biggest pork company with over $15 billion of annual revenue, was bought by China’s WH Group in 2013 from its American owners for $4.7 billion. It does pigs like it was manufacturing parts of a car.

China is now running two seven-floor sow breeding operations, and is putting up four more, including one with as many as 13 floors that will be the world’s tallest building of its kind.

Where China used to rely on backyard pens, growing numerous different species of local pigs that were preferred for the traditional dishes, more and more it is now relying on the specific breed of pig that has been genetically bred to grow the biggest at the quickest rate. These native pigs are quickly vanishing. Some already, like the Longyou black and Ding county, have disappeared. Others, such as the Bama from Guangxi province, the Wujin from the mountainous regions and the Bamei from Yunnan are all endangered. The problem is when you destroy the biodiversity in animals and then keep tens of thousands of them in crowded spaces, diseases can spread easily. These animals are also pumped so full of antibiotics they become antibiotic-resistant, which makes factory farms a breeding ground for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses or easily spreadable places for old ones.


African Swine Flu causes pigs to suffer fever and bleeding, before dying in less than a week. It has almost a 100% mortality rate and there is no vaccine for it, and with industrial farming set up the way it is, it is very hard to stop contamination. It first hit the pig population in China late last year but now with the Year of the Pig in full swing, almost 1 million pigs have had to be killed over the past few months in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease further.

A 2013 study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that 162,000 tons of antibiotics are consumed in China each year, with 52% going to animal husbandry (In the US 80% of antibiotics are consumed by livestock each year). Knowing that industrial farming, especially for pork has exploded in numbers since then, we know the amount used is much higher now in 2019.

Some of these antibiotics added to the animals feed and injected are amoxicillin, tilmicosin, florfenicol and chloramphenicol, which are used on humans to treat infections. There are others used too and farmers can obtain and use antibiotics without a prescription. The antibiotics are used as growth promoters, for profit reasons, and to try and combat the rampant bacteria spread that happens in these conditions yet still, in the pig industry, a mortality rate of 15% is considered acceptable.


A huge issue with farming pigs, and other animals in these conditions is the amount of waste produced. A farm with 5,000 pigs produces as much waste as a town of 20,000 people ( at least, as some studies show pigs produce 8 times as much waste as humans) and yet have no sewage treatment system.

And there is no sewage system for pig waste, so they create huge lagoons, as large as football fields, next to the farms, where all the waste and chemical wash runs into.

From these lagoons, there is consistent documentation of some of it overflowing into surrounding fields and then into drains, streams and rivers, contaminating them with nitrogen, antibiotic resistant bacterias and salmonella.

Documented millions of gallons a year runs off and pollutes the countryside from these "hog farms", most publicly reported are the ones in the state of North Carolina, where past hurricanes caused over 22 million galleons has spilled out, causing environmental catastrophes.

The health implications of the spread and contamination of air, water and land with hydrogen sulphide and ammonia is a serious problem for local resident with people who live near pig factory farms having to live with the acrid stench of the putrid pig waste and the resulting respiratory and eye illness that this causes. It can be so bad that they have to stay inside their houses or if outdoors, need to cover their faces.

The well worth a read, journalist piece, 'Boss Hog; The Dark Side to Americas Top Pork Producer', from the Rolling Stone in 2006, is a decade old, but still the same issues apply just are found in more countries now as the industrial size hit farms went global.

Voiceless Briefing on sow stalls

From Paddocks to Prison

Science and Sense: the case for abolishing sow stalls





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The approximately 25 million cows raised for beef in Australia spend part of their lives grazing grass outdoors on farms.

They are subjected to dehorning, branding and castration without pain relief. Due to the climate in Australia, over-grazing occurs commonly over much of Australia because rainfall, and therefore feed supplies are often erratic. (When droughts hit, the cows - and other animals - often starve. According to industry reports, on average, around 9% of steers die each year and 6% of females die before slaughter.)

80% of cows raised for beef then are transported to feedlots to spend 50-120 days being “fattened” up.

There are around 400 accredited feedlots throughout Australia.

In natural conditions and environments, cows spend up to 12 hours per day grazing on grass. Cattle are ruminants and are not physiologically adapted to eat cereal. In a feedlot, they are fed an unnatural diet of grains (and antibiotics) to get big quick, while kept in a high-density stocking ratio with thousands of other cows.

Cattle in feedlots suffer pulpy kidney, foot rot, respiratory disease( 50%-90% of cattle mortality in feedlots), heat stress, feedlot bloat and acidosis. In summer, cattle are often without shelter existing in dust bowls and in winter they stand in wet, muddy puddles.

Australia has approximately 3% of the world’s cattle, with the US, Brazil, China India and the EU being some of the top producers internationally, processing 100-200 million cattle each per year. Many farms also raise their beef in feedlots in these countries. On a single site, large outdoor feedlots may contain from 2000 to over 100,000 cattle.

Australia is the third largest beef exporter in the world, exporting 68% of beef and veal raised in Australia to overseas to 100 markets. Some of this export (approximately 6%) is done by live export, which the majority of Australia’s population is against. Despite many exposes and the public demand for it to stop, Australia is the world's largest exporter of live sheep and one of the largest exporters of live cattle, by sea, for slaughter.

The demand for grass-fed beef - meat from cows that are not finished in feedlots - is growing. In the US, the sector grew from $6 million in 2012 to $89 million in 2016, driven by consumers concerned about sustainability, health, and animal welfare.

Cows live for approximately 25 years naturally but will be killed before the age of two.

Retail sales of organic, fresh grass-fed beef




Australia has 1.6 million dairy cows.

The number of dairy farms has fallen by almost three quarters since 1980, and halved in the last 20 years, to 5,699 in mid-2018. Changing business has pushed a shift to larger, more intensive operating systems with greater economies of scale, with more than 1000 herd a head.

Dairy farms are still mostly owned and operated by Australian families but Australia’s milk processing - turning raw milk into dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter - is dominated by multi-national companies. Australia exports approximately half of the production of milk.

The dominant breed in Australia is the Holstein, accounting for around 70% of all dairy cattle in Australia and the majority world-wide.

Dairy cows are also forced to endure dehorning, branding and tail docking with no pain relief.

80% of Australian dairy farms are pasture-fed, meaning the cows in Australia do get to graze in open paddocks. This is not the case for most dairy farms in the US, Europe and China.

50% of these Australian, pasture-raised farms also supplement feeding their cows over 1 tonne of grain/supplementary feed each year.

In 2010, it was estimated that 2% of Australian dairies are now a feedlot-style systems like overseas. Since that time, there has been significant growth in the intensive dairy industry with new proposals for large intensive systems across Australian dairy regions.

Currently organic dairy makes up just less that 10% of the production of milk in Australia. Certified organic dairy farms adhere to strict regulations which define how animal health and welfare and environmental sustainability are managed. The use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers and GMOs are not allowed, instead they use natural composts, manures and other preparations to improve the soil’s capacity to grow pasture (which in turn feeds the cows). Organic standards also prohibit cows being confined to a feedlot – they must have continuous access to pasture

Selective breeding and genetic manipulation has resulted in production of cows who produce enormous amounts of milk. The modern dairy cow can produce about 35-50 litres of milk per day—about ten times more milk than her calf would need. The udders become huge and with the machine operated milking, 10-15% of dairy cows in a herd suffer from mastitis, a severely painful condition that can kill the mothers.

To ensure she continues to produce high volumes of milk throughout her life, a dairy cow is forcibly impregnated so that she gives birth to a new calf every 13 months.



The babies of the dairy cows are taken from their mothers, often only hours after being born. Mammals have very strong bonds between mother and child, and this forced separation causes both cows and calves suffer. Farmers report the mother bellows for days when her child is taken.

While a proportion of female calves are kept as replacements for the milk producing herd, those females who are not required and all male calves are considered ‘wastage’ and are slaughtered shortly after birth. They are transported for up to 12 hours to the slaughter house and in the led up, the calves can go up to 30 hours without any milk by law. Calves will normally suckle five times a day.

Approximately 450,000 unwanted dairy calves are slaughtered in Australia each year.

The bobby calf issue applies to both conventional and organic systems, although some smaller organic and biodynamic farms choose to rear bobby calves on the farm until they are a few months old. This is not a common as it costs farms to maintain bobby calves on farm. (They want the milk to sell, not for the babies as intended by nature)

Each year tens of thousands of dairy cattle are shipped overseas from Australia for breeding.

Dairy cows will be slaughtered at 4- 7 years or below, once their milk production slows.


There are approximately 250 million cows producing milk around the world.


The US has lost 90% of its dairy farms since 1970 and over the past decade a decline of about 30%. There are now around 40,000 farms. Most of these are small farms, which are currently struggling financially due to price restrictions from processing plants and super giants. A portion of America’s milk comes from farms with generally between 1000-5000, but some have tens of thousands of cows on wha they call, mega-dairies.

California is the number one dairy state but the industry is moving through other states with the intention of growth.

There are 9.4 million dairy cows in the USA. The majority of them are reared on these intensive concentrated farms - factory farms.

Intensive dairying forces dairy cows to live in large sheds with hard flooring and significantly reduced space. Many of these systems introduce a stall-style system where cows live separately and are given barely enough room to stretch their legs or move around. This restricted space can deeply affect cows who are naturally motivated to exercise, and can result in cows exhibiting abnormal behaviours, such as tongue-rolling or excessive licking and grooming. Cows are meant to graze on grass - but when kept on intensive farms they are fed an unnatural diet of grains.

Cows in the USA may be dosed with bovine growth hormone (rBGH) which has been banned in the UK and EU.

A dairy-industry study found that by the time they are killed, nearly 50 percent of cows are lame because of standing on concrete flooring and filth in intensive confinement.


The bobby calves that are not killed immediately are kept in cramped pens or tiny crates, where they’re prevented from moving much so that their flesh will stay tender. In order to make their flesh white, the calves are fed a diet that is low in iron and has little nutritive value. They frequently suffer from anaemia, diarrhoea, and pneumonia before being killed at only a few months old as veal.


The EU is one of the biggest dairy producer’s with, 23 million dairy cows. Within the EU, Germany has the most at over 4.2 million dairy cows. Roughly 20% of these dairy cows in Germany are chained and most of them spend their lives perpetually pregnant in cow sheds and feedlots designed to further boost supply with just a third getting to graze.

There is currently no EU legislation specifically on the welfare of dairy cows. While the dairy tradition was for the small farms, the trend for the mega-dairy continues through Europe, with all the same issues of animal welfare.

In one investigation in EU, 68% of farms in Denmark, 63% in Spain and more than 50% in Germany of dairy farms visited were depriving them of the chance to graze in fields in the summer, as well as winter.

The UK has 1.9 million dairy cows and, like across the world with fierce pricing competition, the number of dairy farms has dropped by two-thirds over the past decade, to around 9,500.

The UK now faces the questions what will happen with Brexit with dairy-production in price wars and animal and environmental standards. The UK public has campaigned to attempt to keep the mega-dairy out of England but investigations reveal there are at least 21 ‘mega-farms’ with over 700 dairy cows per farm.

Research conducted by DEFRA said that only 30 percent of the farms thought they were traditional pasture-based dairy farms.


China is now the world’s leading importer of milk, as well as its fourth-largest producer, with 12 million dairy cows.

There is a mega-dairy in the north-East of China that is as big as Portugal.

It is the worlds largest dairy with over 100,000 cows.

Large amounts of cow manure resulting in brown stinking water were running off into streams and used veterinary drug packaging were littering the surrounding grounds.

In these farms, the cows are milked three times a day for an 8 minute cycle on a rotary system.

The Chinese government is promoting a shift away from village farms and giving subsidies and free land to factory farms like Mudanjiang’s Mega farm.

In 2017, the US dairy industry sold $577 million in dairy products to China, nearly a 50 percent increase over the previous year.

The European Union is currently the biggest dairy exporter to China, according to the US Department of Agriculture, with a share of nearly 50 percent. New Zealand follows, with a 33 percent share of the market. Australia has nearly 7 percent, followed by 6 percent for the US.


India is the world's largest producer and consumer of dairy. Since 2004 the government passed a law banning the slaughter of any cow but this does not mean there is not an issue with animal welfare throughout the country. The law also has meant that many cows are simply transported across the boarder for slaughter.

There is 40 million dairy cows and 70 million farmers earn a livelihood through dairying - not only with cows, but also buffalo. While the mega-dairy is not the trend in India, there has been a few smaller scale dairies operating with 100 cows per herd.

Due to cows being considered sacred in India and more farmers are swapping cows for buffalo. They already provide India with half the milk. Their “output” of 5.2 litres of milk a day is about a quarter less than what the country’s Holstein-cross cows average, and it’s much less than the 28 -40 litres yielded by cows overseas. (During peak lactation, a high-yielding cow may produce as much as 60 litres per day)

Global environmental costs of China’s thirst for milk.” Global Change Biology. 2018.



Cows are not the only animal used for leather production, but they are the main one.

Once the hide are removed from the dead animals, they are then tanned to stop them from decaying. 90% of tanning is done with Chrome around the world today, rather than vegetable.

The top five countries for tanning are Brazil, China, India, Italy and Russia.

Overall, the Chinese leather industry produces nearly 4 billion square feet of leather per year - more than double the next highest producer.

There is the detrimental environmental impact raising cows has, (see under Environment) and there is also a major issue with tanning.

Scientific America says the tanning industry is one of the top ten pollutants in the world today.

Much of the leather is now tanned in developing countries, such as India and China, because of cost savings. However both China and India both have substandard environmental and humanitarian conditions in these factories. Workers in them are paid extremely low wages and suffer from respiratory infections, skin diseases, cancer, eye problems and sterility as well as there being a much higher rate of birth defects in the children of the workers.

The rivers around the tanneries are subjected to constant flux of waste from the tanneries, where consistently they are not being treated correctly. This means toxic byproducts, such as chromium, sodium sulphide, lime, dyes and animal proteins etc are washed into the water ways that are lifelines to the populations that surround them. Many of these rivers are officially “dead,” turned into toxic sludge and unable to support any marine life. Locals have no choice but to bath with this water. It also then leaks into water tables and poisons surrounding farmland.

Some of the two worst examples are in the area of Hazaribagh in Bangladesh and the Chinese state of Zinji.

New environmental standards and regulations were stated a few years ago, but this has still not been translated into many of the factories in China and India.





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The meat from sheep is most widely consumed from babies - lamb. They are killed at an average of 6 months old, sheep live to approximately 14 years old in nature.

Australia has a population of approximately 70 million sheep (2018). This number has more than halved in the last 30 years ago -in 1990 we had 170 million sheep. This is due to a number of factors including a move to cropping instead, volatile meat and wool prices and harsh droughts.

Australia is the world largest exporter of sheep meat, and is the world’s second largest producer of lamb and mutton. Australia slaughters 22.9 million lambs per year on average.

Sheep being transported to slaughter can have their water supply cut off for 48 hours (sheep over 4 months old) or 28 hours (lambs under 4 months old) at a time.

Fatality of lambs being born in winter is as high as 10-15 million per year, as they freeze to death in the first few days after birth from exposure to cold weather, usually at night, or a lack of shelter and food. Some are abandoned by their mothers; others are too small to survive, usually when born a twin or triplet.

Other welfare issues below are being called to change by many fashion houses listening to rising consumer demands for better animal welfare standard and at the minimum pain relief. This is still not routine though.

Tail docking

Lambs are born with a long tail but are put in a restraint device and have their tail cut off with a hot bald or knife. On some farms, lambs will instead have a rubber ring tightened around their tail so that it will wither and drop off.


To manage the flystrike, farmers have been mulesing for years, where the skin is sliced from the buttocks of lambs without anaesthetic to produce a scar free of wool, faecal/urine stains, and skin wrinkles.

Mulesing involves cutting a crescent-shaped slice of skin from each side of the buttock area; the usual cut on each side is 5 - 7cm in width and extends slightly less than half way from the anus to the hock of the back leg in length.

“Flystrike” is a major problem for sheep in the Australian wool industry. Blowflies lay their eggs on the skin of the sheep and then they hatch into larvae, which feed on the sheep’s tissue, producing inflammation, general systemic toxaemia, and even death.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), agreed in 2004 that it would, by 2010, phase out the practice of mulesing. However in 2009 announced it would be reneging on this promise of working to a deadline. There has been no new deadline set, but consumer demand is growing.

For the past few years, sheep producers have been encouraged to use a local anaesthetic when carrying out the process after great pressure from animal welfare groups and high-end brands buying their wool. But it is not mandatory and it is self-regulated, with statistics from the wool industry now saying 21% of wool comes from sheep mulesed with pain relief - 80% without any form of anisethic . The industry has also been looking into alternatives to mulesing, those that have been experimenting have had good results. The percentage of wool from non-mulesed sheep made up just over 10 per cent of Australia's entire export clip this season (2018)

These include:

  • Choosing genetically proven to produce a bare area around the back end. The trait is highly heritable, which means most of the offspring will end up having a smaller risk of getting flystrike - but this of course takes time to be seen through generations of sheep.

  • Changing the time of shearing, so sheep have the least amount of wool when there is the highest risk of flystrike, usually in summer

  • “Crutching” more regularly to remove the wool around the back end of the sheep and decrease the chance of providing that wet wool environment.

  • Application of chemicals can also keep flies at bay for as long as 12 weeks.


During 'surgical' castration, the bottom of the lamb's scrotum is cut, his testicles are pushed out and cut off. Or a rubber band is placed around them.

Normally this is done with no pain relief.

Sheep farming also causes significant land degradation and erosion, like all grazing of hard-hooved animals. An issue sheep farmers and the sheep face in Australia is the severe droughts they suffer cyclicly such as in 2018 when a huge percentage had to be slaughtered “before they were not correctly finished” because of malnourishment - they were starving.

Due to the drought conditions, sheep feedlots are increasingly popular in Australia. Like the beef feedlots, this is where they “finish” the lambs by keeping them in a confined space with intensive grain feeding, where they will not graze but be fed a mix of around 60% grain and 40% roughage. The number is steadily on the increase and after countless hours attempting to find the percentage of lambs finished in feedlots, I have had no luck… yet there are many many examples of them. They are given 1 meter squared per lamb and generally 500 sheep per pen. If more than 4000 sheep they must have 5 square metres each and thousands to tens of thousands per farm.

Like beef feedlots, you have then the issues of "‘full ration feeding’ and animal health issues associated with confined feeding which as salmonella, acidosis, (15% of deaths) coccidiosis, pulpy kidney, grain poisoning and worms. As well as the environmental impact of having to deal with excessive excrement from having many animals in a condensed space.


New Zealand has around 27 million sheep and killing approximately 19 million lambs per year. NZ export 88% of the lambs they kill.

They banned mulesing due to animal welfare concerns.

IN 2003 NZ also banned the live sheep trade after Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of 57,000 sheep on board the MV Cormo Express.

However they still allow the export of animals for breeding purposes. According to the Ministry of Primary Industries, in 2017 the country exported more than 8 million live animals overseas including 8.5 million day-old chicks (about 5.7 million of which are incubated eggs ready for hatching), 27,306 live cattle for breeding and more than 15,000 kilograms of bees.

Of this, just 123 head of sheep were exported from New Zealand throughout 2017.

Methane (CH4) is the largest contributor to New Zealand's national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, and it also comprises 45% of all emissions in terms of global warming potential. Per capita, New Zealand has the largest methane emission rate (0.6 t per person per year)—six times the global average. The methane comes primarily from enteric fermentation in ruminant livestock, and sheep are the greatest single source.


China has the largest sheep flock 175 million and produces 1/3 of the world’s sheep meat. Yet it is still the number one importer of sheep meat.

In northern China, overgrazing and over-farming has lead to the loss of nearly a million acres (about 400,000 hectares) of grassland each year to desert. Like the rest of the farming movement in China, sheep farming has moved significantly indoors into large industrial sheds - factory farming - feedlots.


The US slaughter around 2.2 million sheep per year.


Sheep are bred and grown for both their meat and their wool.

Australia is the largest producer of wool.

We are also the only country that performs mulesing to sheep.

More than 70% of the sheep in Australia are pure-bred Merinos, with other breeds and crossbreds making up the remainder. Merino sheep are used for both their wool and meat. Wool produced from Merino sheep is finer than wool produced from other breeds, and is in more demand for fashion currently.

A fully-grown Merino ram in a high-rainfall area can produce about 4–10 kilograms of wool each year, this is the amount to make approximately five average men’s business suits. The percentage of wool from non-mulesed sheep made up just over 10 per cent of Australia's entire export clip this season (2018)

There are approximately 26,000 wool growers in Australia. Of these, approximately 3,100 produce some non-mulesed wool.


A sheep/lamb skin is when the hide - the skin - is removed and tanned with the wool intact. These are used for prams, rugs, furniture, fashion, Ugg boots etc. Ninety per cent of sheepskins produced in Australia export to China.






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90% of commercial turkey meat in Australia and around the world is raised in factory farms.

Inghams Enterprises Pty Ltd is the largest turkey producer in Australia, followed by Bartter which now markets Steggles. On average, five million turkeys are killed annually in Australia for meat.

Worldwide, over 650 million turkeys are slaughtered each year for meat.

Turkeys are crowded in sheds with 15,000 -25,000, forced to live in a space roughly the size of an A3 sheet of paper. Living on a litter of rice hulls, straw or wood shavings, these sheds are not cleaned until the turkeys are sent to slaughter, up to 3 months from the time they arrive.

They have their beaks ‘trimmed’ with hot blades, as like the chickens kept in sheds, the frustration the turkeys experience unable to fulfil basic instincts while living in overcrowded areas, leads to fighting. This is not needed on free-range pasture raised farms. Beak trimming has been banned in some European countries such as Norway, Finland and Sweden but the UK, US and Australia still allow it to continue.

Toe removal is also performed on male breeding birds which can result in open wounds, blood loss and pain.

Desnooding is practiced to minimalise cannibalism. This is where the long fleshy appendage extending from the front of a turkey's head over its upper back is removed with an instrument or pulled off.

Turkeys have been genetically modified to gain weight rapidly. In nature, these birds can run and fly, but on factory farms, most struggle to walk under the weight of their unnaturally heavy breasts. This rapid growth puts enormous pressure on their heart and immature skeleton. They suffer from leg weakness, joint problems and bone fractures.

The abundance of faeces and inadequate air ventilation in the sheds produces a proliferation of ammonia, which causes burns, respiratory infections, ulcerated feet and irritated eyes.

They are routinely fed antibiotics for both accelerated growth and because disease is rife in these conditions, killing off 10% of the turkeys in 3 months before they even reach the slaughterhouse.

The lack of space and confinement means they are unable to perform any natural instincts, even the basic of perching. They don’t get to see the sun or breathe fresh air. Lighting is orchestrated to alter normal sleeping and eating sequences, principally to multiply the birds’ consumption and limit movement. These methods, however, wreak havoc on the functioning of the body and result in a multitude of diseases and problems.

There are two main commercial breeds of turkey in Australia, the Nicholas White and the Hybrid. The "genetic material" of these breeds is imported from the US and Canada. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, without artificial insemination performed by humans, this variety of bird would become extinct in just one generation. This is because they can not reproduce without intervention.

The male turkeys are 'milked'. A worker holds down the turkey in a bent-over position and then grabs the turkey's penis, stroking and masturbating it until it ejaculates. The semen is collected, laced with extenders (a liquid to preserve fertilising ability) and antibiotics, and then injected via syringe into the female turkey.

This is repeated once or twice a week until the breeder turkeys are slaughtered at one year of age. Australian prohibits sexual contact with animals but farm animals are excluded from these laws because sexual contact is needed for artificial insemination procedures. These turkeys are held on separate breeder farms with each farm holding up to 7000 hens. These turkeys are called layers and are kept in shed with flocks of up to 3000.

All factory farmed turkeys never meet their mothers. Whereas, naturally, the mother turkey would communicate with her chicks while they are in the egg and following their birth. In intensive turkey farming, , fertile eggs are transferred to the hatchery. This means that the chicks are denied their natural start in life.

After 28 days in an incubating cabinet the poults are hatched. At a day old the turkey chicks are transported to growing sheds with up to 25,000 chicks the same age. The lighting is dim and the heat is kept permanently high. Many chicks die from heat, stress, heart attack, bullying, or starvation since many are unable to find the food and water points without the guidance of their mothers.


The UK kills 14 million turkeys per year.

The USA produces 46% of the worlds turkey meat.

In 2015 they experienced an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza which affected the turkey industry poorly for obvious reasons, including the 7.5 million turkeys who had to be killed to stop the spread. Chile is now the biggest turkey importer to China.

Eating Animals, Johnathan Safran Foer






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“What we casually refer to as “fish” is in fact a collection of animals of fabulous diversity. According to Fishbase - the largest and most often consulted online database on fishes - 33,249 species, in 564 families and 64 orders, had been described as of January 2016. Thats more than the combined total of all mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. When we refer to “fish” we are referring to 60% of all the known species on Earth with backbones.” Jonathan Balcombe

Currently, less than two percent of our oceans are set aside as marine reserves, making it all too easy to exploit their resources. Overfishing and destructive, wasteful fishing practices are threatening the health of our oceans and food security for communities everywhere.

As a result of commercial fishing, 90 percent of large fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years.


Due to this overfishing, problematic fishing practises and inadequate regulation of international waters, the stocks of fish are being taken much faster than they can replenish. We must ask ourselves, is there really a way, with a population of over 7 billion people, we can eat from our oceans sustainably??

There have been total collapses in fisheries such as with Peruvian coast anchovy, the Canadian cod and now the Atlantic salmon. In 2008 the UN did a report showing the world fishing fleets are losing $50 billion a year due to depleted stocks - for example in the last decade, in the north Atlantic region, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95%.

Fishing in todays world often means big boats with big nets.

There are over 23, 000 seaborne factories, that can stay in the ocean for weeks at a time, complete with refrigeration and canning operations, plying the worlds oceans. They are not limited by how many they can catch, but how many are left to be taken.

These big nets drag up and kill all sorts of sea-life resulting in huge amounts of "by-catch".

1/4 of all fish fished are considered by-catch, which basically translates to rubbish as they are thrown back into the ocean - dead.

This by-catch includes dolphins, turtles, sharks and many other species including endangered ones, especially from the bottom trawling used to catch prawns. The bottom trawling has the extra destructive effect of damaging the ocean floors and coral reefs.


There is also now numerous published scientific reports debunking the myths that

  • fish have no memory (they do)

  • fish have no feelings (they have pain receptors and yes, can and do feel pain and suffer)

  • Fishes are also incredibly intelligent, they use tools, work together helping each other, parent in many different ways, some mate for life, some care for their young in their mouths, play and feel joy.

  • yes, they look and express very differently to us, and land animals, but this is what is wonderful about them.

  • Plus they have been around longer than us.

I will cover some issues around the world of fishing, marine life and sustainability. By no means is this sufficient to cover all the fish, the studies etc… you need a lifetime and a website dedicated to only that. But I hope you gain an insight and learn a little more from what you read here.


Around ¼ of the world’s catch is by-catch.

turtles, seals, sharks, dolphins, seabirds and unintended fish species that get tangled up in the fishing gear. Usually they are thrown back into the ocean and are often dying or are already dead. The fishing methods used to catch Tuna, Blue Grenadier (or Hoki) and wild-caught Prawns yield some of the highest levels of bycatch.

There is also the issue with ghost fishing nets, when fleets abandon or loose synthetic drift nets or bottom set gill net, that then entangle and kill other marine life. While there has been improvement for some industries, still today, 300,000 whales and dolphins die from being caught in these ghost nets fishing nets.

Australia has pretty good standards as far as fishing goes.

BUT Australia imports 72% of the seafood we eat.

Canned fish such as Tuna and Salmon, frozen fish fillets, Prawns and Squid are the major imported items.

Last year, in 2018, more than 50% of seafood came from factory farms - aquaculture.

At first it may seem a solution to the situation of plummeting fish stocks, but it only fuels the problem. Reasons vary from needing to feed farmed fish, FISH FROM THE OCEANS, pollution from the farms, sea lice, escaped farmed fish that breed with wild fish and use of medication.




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Data illustrates that instead of providing a solution to depleting fish stocks, the intensive marine aquaculture of carnivorous species creates another source of pressure for fisheries, where exploitation leads to further expansion and intensification.

There are many issues with salmon farming - and these generally apply to other types of fish farming, including:


Excessive use of chemicals, such as antibiotics, anti-foulants and pesticides, or the use of banned chemicals can have unintended consequences for marine organisms and human health.

Wild salmon get their colour from eating krill and shrimp. The flesh of farmed salmon is grey, and is coloured by astaxanthin, a manufactured copy of the pigment


Viruses and parasites transfer between farmed and wild fish as well as among farms, presenting a risk to wild populations or other farms.


Escaped farmed salmon can compete with wild fish and interbreed with local wild stocks of the same population, altering the overall pool of genetic diversity.


Excess food and fish waste increase the levels of nutrients in the water and lead to oxygen-deprived waters that kill aquatic life.


Salmon farming often employs a large number of workers on farms and in processing plants, potentially placing labor practices and worker rights under public scrutiny. Additionally, conflicts can arise among users of the shared coastal environment.


Salmon are highly intelligent fishes, designed by nature to navigate oceans. Keeping them encaged with hundreds of thousands of others causes them stress, these fish have stunted growth and can be seen floating lifelessly at the surface. Research concluded that depressed fish exhibit behaviours and brain chemistry almost identical to those of very stressed and depressed people.


Hundreds of thousands of Washington State–farmed Atlantic salmon were accidentally released into the Salish Sea after their underwater net pens collapsed at a salmon farm near Cypress Island. The potential victims: local wild fish, many of them endangered or threatened, which will now face increased competition for food and habitat.

A study published in Conservation Biology reported that non-native Atlantic salmon were found in over 80 wild salmon spawning streams in British Columbia, with feral juvenile Atlantic salmon having been discovered at three locations.

Theses escapes happen across the globe in salmon fish farms. Last year, Arnarlax lost 200,000 salmon at its Laugardalur pen, when the fish had to be moved in icy waters after an outbreak of bacterial kidney disease (BKD). In January, a tear was reported at a pen containing 157,000 salmon.

Atlantic salmon are rarely found in the wild today, Lovera says, due to habitat destruction, dams, and overfishing. “There are not many left,” she says. “They’re not in good shape, numbers-wise.” The United States currently imports most of its for-consumption Atlantic salmon from farms in Norway, Chile, and Canada, augmented by domestic production in Washington and Maine. Cooke Aquaculture, which owns the pens involved in the August 2017 salmon spill, owns most of Washington’s net pens as well as salmon farms in Canada, Scotland, Chile, and Maine.

Atlantic salmon are raised in net pens in open marine waters; in a conventional setup, a mesh net is suspended within a framework of wood, plastic, or steel, held in place by weights. Fish can escape the pens due to heavy storms, damage from boats, vandalism, or just poor maintenance.

Open net-cage salmon farming is currently one of the most harmful aquaculture production systems and poses environmental threats in all regions it is practiced.

The pens pose environmental hazards even if the fish don’t escape.


The open nets permit the flow of waste, parasites, bacteria, and diseases into surrounding waters, where can infect native fish stocks and surrounding wild populations of salmon.

A typical salmon farm holds 720,000 fish with an average weight of 5 kg when they reach market size.

Waste from all of these fish builds up under the pens smothering portions of the ocean bottom, contaminating the marine ecosystem and depriving species of oxygen.

Or the bulk of waste may be carried away from the farm site by ocean currents, but this too ends up collecting in another place and causing pollution

The cramped environments in fish farms allow for disease to spread rapidly from fish to fish.

Amoebic gill disease is a parasite which thrives in warm water, making it a common threat to fish in Australian farms, particularly during summer. The parasite deteriorates their gills, making it difficult for fish to get enough oxygen, eventually causing heart collapse and death if left untreated.

There are a range of other viruses, bacteria and parasites which can affect fish in farms, often with tragic results. In 2018, more than 1 million fish died from pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV) in fish farms in Tasmania.

Other diseases they suffer from is parasites and lice. There is also the danger of the chemicals that are used to fight disease and parasites.

Sea lice are tiny saltwater crustaceans that attach by suction to salmon and leave lesions, lessen resistance to disease, and reduce growth. When open-net salmon farms contain large numbers of crowded adult fish, they can also contain epidemic-level numbers of the lice.

While sea lice don’t harm humans who eat infested fish, they can be lethal to salmon by creating open sores and infections. A female sea louse lays 22, 000 eggs during her 7 month life span. v

“Wild salmon close to fish farms are 73 times more likely to suffer lethal sea lice than juveniles not adjacent to fish farms,” according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The department points out a farm can elevate levels of sea lice up to 100 kilometres from a pen, which endanger native salmon passing through. Juveniles “catch” the parasites and bear them on their seaward migrations.

*Sea lice affected 75 percent more sites in 2015 than in 2014 in Scotland farms.

Sea lice are credited for causing massive die-offs of the wild pink salmon off the Canadas Pacific coast. *

Research papers showed that the levels of chemicals used to kill sea lice have breached environmental safety limits more than 100 times in the last 10 years.

The salmon farming companies are also using mechanical ways to trim the lice from the fish. These range from pumping the fish through water hot enough to make the lice let go of their hosts, to churning them as if in a washing machine. Both have devastating effects, such as in 2016 when the heating of the water on a Skye fish farm led to the accidental slaughter of 95,000 fish.

Another 20,000 died in another incident.

In 2018, a Tassal farm in Tasmania killed 30,000 fish during a 'bathing' treatment, citing 'human error' as the cause. In 2015, 85,000 salmon suffocated to death in a salmon farm in Tasmania due to a change in oxygen levels.

Even the fed can cause pollution.

The salmon are fed pellets which can pollute surrounding waters when the pellets fall through the netting to the seafloor or are dispersed in our waterways with the currents, along with the massive amounts of fecal waste the fish produce.

And if all that weren’t enough, farm-raised Atlantic salmon are still carnivorous, so the industry depends on other fish for fish oil and fish feed.

Common practices require more than a pound of fish meal to produce a pound of salmon. Salmon feed is made, in part, from fishmeal and fish oil.

Over two-thirds of the total global salmon aquafeed production is produced by two companies: Skretting (Nutreco) and Ewos (Cermaq).

Attempts to shift salmon feed away from marine sources due to rising costs and reduced availability introduces entirely new issues and concerns:

  • Byproduct feed – in Canada, farmed salmon can be fed byproducts from poultry processing such as feathers, necks and intestines;

  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – farmed salmon can be fed genetically modified soy and canola;

  • The environmental impacts of growing genetically modified organisms has not been adequately assessed.

“What we are seeing now is a chemical arms race in the seas, just like on the land farms, where the resistance of plants to chemicals is growing. In fish farms, the parasites are increasing resistance to chemicals and antibiotics. There has been a 10-fold increase in the use of some chemicals in the past 18 months.” The farms are now turning to mechanical ways to delouse the fish, he says. “They are using hydro-dousers, like huge carwashes, and thermal lousing, which heats them up.” There is also the spectre of GM salmon, with companies engineering GM plants for their omega-3 to feed the fish, and a US company given permission to develop GM salmon.

Whichever way you look, the breeding of carnivorous fish is a nightmare. It is environmentally, socially and economically bankrupt. It’s coming to a crisis point for the industry. “

Staniford, Scientist and Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture


Open net-cages attract marine mammals who are natural predators of salmon. Whether a salmon farm obtains a license to shoot the mammals that threaten their stock or they drown in the nets surrounding open net-cages, the death of seals, sea lions, porpoises and birds is a cost of farmed salmon production that is hidden from the consumer.

Reports and footage shed light on the magnitude of marine mammal deaths caused by entanglements in salmon farm predator nets, such as:

  • Documents have revealed that more than 8,700 bullets have been fired at seals around aquaculture sites in Tasmania since 2013. The ABC reported that there have been incidences of seals being blinded and deafened as a result of being hit by one of these beanbag bullets.
  • September 2011, DFO posted the counts of marine mammals shot or drowned at active salmon farms during the first quarter of 2011. A total of 141 California sea lions were deliberately shot; 37 harbour seals were reported shot or drowned in the nets.

  • In April 2007, 51 California sea lions were found dead at one of Creative Salmon’s open net-cage fish pens in Clayoquot Sound. At least 110 sea lions drowned in Creative Salmon’s nets in Clayoquot Sound in 2007, with 46 sea lions dying in their nets in 2006.


Salmon is the biggest-selling seafood in the UK. Most UK production is carried out by six Norwegian companies. There are about 250 salmon farms off the west coast of Scotland and its islands

Norway and Chile dominate the world’s 20 largest salmon producers. Of the twenty largest, 11 companies have their head office in Norway, six in Chile, while the United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands and Canada have one each. Plans to open the largest 2 million head salmon farm in Scotland.

Norway banned using antibiotics in fish feed, though additives designed to curb the lice also find their way into the food chain

China has launched a project for the large-scale cultivation of salmon in the cold water mass of the Yellow Sea


In Australia we have our salmon farms in Tasmania' and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, publishers of Australia’s independent sustainable seafood guide downgraded the farmed fish’s rating from an amber “Think Twice” to a red “Say No” due to ongoing environmental concerns.

Their assessment was based on reported environmental impacts, including the dramatic falls in oxygen levels in the harbour that created dead zones on the seafloor, the loss of industry certification by key players Tassal and Petuna and the death of 1.35 million fish from pilchard orthomyxovirus, POMV, a disease exacerbated by environmental stress. “If the salmon is running out of oxygen, so is everything else.”

There were additional concerns around the industry’s detrimental impact on the rare and endangered Maugean skate fish and poor interactions with Australian fur seals.




Eating tuna is like eating a tiger. The largest Atlantic bluefin tuna outsizes the largest tiger… they are an apex predator and both the Atlantic and Pacific tuna are endangered.

Yet the more rare they become, the more valuable as a commodity they also are. One can sell for over a million dollars making them a hunted, species.

Tuna is a desired fish -we eat it in cans, in sushi, feed it to our cats, like there is a never ending population of tuna in our oceans, but our insatiable appetite for tuna has driven many of the tuna species to the brink of extinction.

Atlantic Bluefin tuna stocks have been driven to just 3% of their 1960s numbers – a decline of 97%. Tuna are apex predators – top of the food chain with not many natural predators. Taking too many apex predators out of our oceans disrupts the entire ecosystem.

Tuna are slow-growing and long-lived fish, meaning they take a long time to get to an age of sexual maturity in order to reproduce. This means populations in decline take a long time to recover. Also, current practices of taking juvenile Bluefin Tuna out of the oceans and placing them into sea-cage farms to be fattened means they are killed before they are able to produce young.

If you are going to eat tuna, perhaps ask yourself, would you eat a tiger?

If so, according to Greenpeace it’s best to look for ‘100% FAD-free* and pole and line caught’ Skipjack Tuna from the West and Central Pacific, which is the most “sustainable” tuna stock.

Whereas Yellowfin, Albacore, Bigeye and Southern Bluefin Tuna are all endangered, overfished or near-threatened.

With around 2.6 million tonnes of tuna caught in the Western Pacific Ocean and 800,000 tonnes in the Indian Ocean each year.

The most populated species of tuna, the Skipjack, which is also the most fished, is sadly largely used as feed for our domesticated cats as pet food. If you have a cat, perhaps you might want to ask yourself if you feel the cat could survive on another type of food, rather one that is being over-fished.

A big issue is the way tuna is caught- by Purse Seines, gigantic nets that scoop up anything in its reach and its often done using Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD's), used to attract tuna and the other marine life in.

While the Australian Tuna Industry has got behind not using FAD's in our waters and removed FAD's from their supply chains, they are still used around the world.





What are crustaceans that we are fishing?

crabs, lobsters, crayfish, yabbies, shrimps, prawns, krill

Often they are considered not to feel pain due to their different bodies and expressions then us, but research is showing they do have aversion to painful stimuli and remember it and avoid it in future if presented with it again.

Lobsters can live to 100, and are solitary, except when mating and it goes against their nature being kept in a tank with other lobsters as they are in restaurants. They take long-distance seasonal journeys and can cover 100 miles or more each year, so restricting them in a cage is also very stressful to them.

Crabs have well-developed senses of sight, smell, and taste, and research indicates that they have the ability to sense pain. They have two main nerve centers, one in the front and one to the rear, and—like all animals who have nerves and an array of other senses—they feel and react to pain. Dr. Robert Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast who has studied crustaceans for decades, says, “Denying that crabs feel pain because they don’t have the same biology [as mammals] is like denying they can see because they don’t have a visual cortex.”

It is unthinkable that we would be sold a live chicken or lamb to kill at home and boil alive. Why do some people think of lobsters and crabs differently?

There is as much evidence for pain in crustaceans as there is in many vertebrates

Prof Robert Elwood

All of the following methods have been described as inhumane by the EU's Animal Health and Welfare Scientific:

  • Live boiling. During this process lobsters and crabs thrash, try to escape, and shed their limbs, known to be a sign of stress.

  • Keeping live lobsters on ice has been banned in Switzerland and Italy. Icing them renders them paralysed not senseless.

Trawling for prawns and shrimp is one of the worst types of fishing for the marine eco-system and by-catch. And there have been total collapses of markets due to over-fishing in certain parts of the world already.

While catching crabs in pots limits by-catch, and there are claims that some are more sustainable then others, we always must keep in mind, that already numerous crabs are over-fished to the point of almost extinction. If we continue to fish the other crabs at this rate, they too will meet this fate.

Over the last five years, the annual krill catch has jumped from just more than 100,000 tons to several million tons per year because with new technologies they can literally vacuum them up from the Antarctic Ocean at unprecedented rates.

Krill is a tiny crustacean, like a shrimp, and it forms part of the plankton level in our oceans. It can be hard to get emotionally moved to save such an “unlovable” species — but its survival is imperative to the survival of the entire ecosystem of the Southern Ocean. As a keystone species at the bottom of the food chain, huge numbers of other Antarctic species — whether they eat krill or not — are directly or indirectly affected by how abundant krill are.

It is a very serious question you need to ask yourself next time you are popping your krill oil supplement; is it worth risking the seals for? Is it worth risking the penguins and whales for?

Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd are vocally against the krill oil trade, both calling for an extension of the reserve status given to the land into the Antarctic waters in order to protect this vulnerable ecosystem. Currently, the fishing in Antarctic waters is regulated by The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The 25 members of CCAMLR include the key krill-fishing countries.

The Last Lobster: Boom or Bust for Maine's Greatest Fishery?"

European Food Safety Authority) (2005) "Opinion on the “Aspects of the biology and welfare of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes” The EFSA Journal, 292, 1-46

Elwood, R., and Magee, B., (2013) "Shock avoidance by discrimination learning in the shore crab (Carcinus maenas) is consistent with a key criterion for pain", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol 216: 353-358

Morelle, J., (2013) "Further evidence crabs and other crustaceans feel pain", webpage, accessed 12-3-16

Appel, M & Elwood, R (2009), 'Motivational trade-offs and potential pain experience in hermit crabs' Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 119, no. 1-2, pp. 120-124

BBC, (2009) "Crabs sense and remember pain" accessed 12-3-16

Magee, B., & Elwood, R. W. (2016). Trade-offs between predator avoidance and electric shock avoidance in hermit crabs demonstrate a non-reflexive response to noxious stimuli consistent with prediction of pain. Behavioural Processes, 130, 31-35



Sharks are among the most threatened marine animals worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that populations of many large sharks have declined by 90% or more in areas where they were once abundant.

Almost 100 million sharks are being killed each year, with fishing rates outstripping the ability of populations to recover, scientists have estimated.

That’s over 10,000 every hour.

Many shark populations have declined from overfishing and bycatch in pelagic longlines, gillnets, handlines, and bottom trawls.

The demand for shark fins to make soup, where they literally slice the fins off these majestic creatures and throw them back into the ocean to die a painful death, has annihilated shark populations – although recent work suggested that demand for fins has finally begun to fall. School shark was the flake and chips staple for Australians in the 1970s but the nation's love affair with the deep fried fish impacted school shark numbers.

Despite being almost endangered, it currently legal in Australia to commercially fish for school, scalloped hammerhead and gulper sharks, blue warehou, dogfish, orange roughy, eastern gemfish and southern bluefin tuna. All of these fish are categorised by government as ‘Conservation Dependent’, which is a category that acknowledges that these species are under threat from fishing, but can still be fished.

A number of scientific studies have demonstrated that the depletion of sharks results in the loss of commercially important fish and shellfish species down the food chain, including key fisheries such as tuna that maintain the health of coral reefs. As important apex predators, sharks have shaped marine life in the oceans for over 450 million years and are essential to the health of our oceans, and ultimately to the survival of humankind.

The health of the ocean is extremely important for our survival and the health of the sharks is important for the ocean. The ocean produces more oxygen than all the rainforests combined, removes half of the atmosphere’s anthropogenic carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), and controls our planet’s temperature and weather.

As the apex predators of the oceans, the role of sharks is to keep other marine life in healthy balance and to regulate the oceans. Studies are already indicating that regional elimination of sharks can cause disastrous effects including the collapse of fisheries and the death of coral reefs.

Longlining is known to cause bycatch, where creatures such as turtles and seabirds are caught as well as the fish that is intended to be harvested.

Download the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide

GoodFishBadFish –

Australian Marine Conservation Society –

Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.



I include different methods so those interested who still consume seafood can take into account the affect on the fishes, the greater ecosystem. It is also important to consider the way the animal dies, as numerous studies in the last few years confirm beyond doubt that, yes, fish to feel pain and suffer.


Crushed - when huge hauls are brought in and the nets are tightened around hundreds or millions of other fish, they can be crushed to death. (Eg, Purse Seine)

Suffocate - when fish are hauled onto the boat, and out of water, they suffocate, without the ability to get oxygen from air.

Suffocate on ice - Putting any marine life on ice may render them still but not unconscious, so they still suffer just for longer and without being able to move ( just imagine that for yourself). At room temp it takes a salmon two and half minutes to lose consciousness and 11 minutes to die, yet on ice, it can take up to three hours to die.

Bleed out - Cutting the fish to bleed it to death. When fish are killed in aquaculture, they are generally either stunned with a blow to the head and then have their gills slit to “bleed out” but they can also be put in ammonia baths (banned in Germany due to cruelty) decapitated or electrocuted.

Decompression - When deeper dwelling fish is hoisted to the surface, they can suffer from all types of terrible inflications such as their oesophagus turning inside out, the eyes popping, embolisms etc.

Hooked - hooks through any part of the fish do cause the fish pain, sometimes death, even when removed and thrown back into the water.


Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing seafood sector, likely to overtake all other methods of seafood production within a few years time.

It now produces over 50% of the world’s seafood - with 2018 we saw more fish taken from aquaculture than the oceans and rivers.

It has been hailed as both the saviour and the ruin of the oceans. So which is right?

Antibiotics may be used to stave off disease. There are also issues of fish welfare, pollution, land degradation and impacts to native fish populations and eco-systems.

Carnivorous fish raised in farms are fed wild caught fish in the form of fishmeal (pellets comprising small schooling fish species). It takes up to 2kg of fishmeal to produce 1kg of farmed Salmon, which places even more pressure on wild fisheries.

Different methods of aquaculture have different impacts on the environment, so it is worth knowing how your seafood was farmed. Here is a look at some of the most common methods of Aquaculture employed in Australia today and their pros and cons.

Also check out the Fishing Techniques page, to learn how wild fish are caught.


Open sea-cage aquaculture refers to the rearing of aquatic species, within enclosures in natural waterways. Open systems are being implemented in a wide range of environments including freshwater rivers, brackish estuaries and coastal marine regions. Floating mesh cages are anchored to the seafloor and vary in size depending on the scale of operation and the species cultured.

Young fishes are sourced either from hatcheries or wild populations, and grown out in pens until a marketable size has been reached.

Some rapidly developing open systems in Australia include yellowtail kingfish, southern bluefin tuna, Atlantic salmon, trout and barramundi.

One of the primary objections relates to the requirement of fishmeal to feed carnivorous species. In some cases the conversion ratio may be in the order of more than 5kg of fishmeal to produce just 1kg of marketable fish.

Other significant issues include increased disease and parasite transmission due to high fish densities, the risk of escape and interbreeding with wild populations, and reduced water quality resulting from the accumulation of faecal waste.

For a detailed look at this method of aquaculture, read the GoodFishBadFish series: Exploring Open-Pen Sea Cage Aquaculture


The culture of numerous shellfish species is carried out in systems open to natural waterways. Larval stages may be collected from the wild or produced in hatcheries. These are then placed into the water column by methods including attachment to sticks or ropes, or containment in cages. The main species cultured with these methods are mussels and oysters. As these species are filter-feeders, they are capable of extracting nutritional requirements from the water column, with no fishmeal being added.


Semi-closed aquaculture refers to the land-based production of a species, in which water is exchanged between the farm and a natural waterway. Waste water is released from the ponds into the local waterway, whilst the farm is replenished with fresh water pumped back into the system.

Prawn farming is the predominant form of semi-closed aquaculture.

The black tiger prawn is the primary species being farmed in Australia, whilst banana, kuruma and brown tiger prawns are also being produced.

Semi-closed aquaculture operations can have really bad effects on coastal ecosystems. As ponds require continual water exchange, they are often located adjacent to waterways, where coastal wetlands and mangroves are reclaimed for development. The result is a vast loss of habitat which is critical for the young stage of many species. Constant outflow of water may also reduce surrounding water quality.


Closed system aquaculture refers to the land-based rearing of aquatic species in raceways, tanks and ponds.

Closed aquaculture systems are primarily used for freshwater species with silver perch, barramundi, yabbies and marron amongst the most common marketable species in Australia.

The same problems apply with feeding the fish, disease, welfare - the pro for this type of farming is that wild populations are not exposed to the lice.




Pole and line fishing is a traditional method by which predatory fishes are captured one-by-one on hook and line.

Major pole and line fisheries target tuna species such as skipjack and albacore, however there are also numerous operations targeting tropical reef fishes.

Pole and line fishing is generally thought to have a minimal impact on habitat and fish stocks, however, localised depletions are still occurring as so many people fish for recreation. Bycatch rates are generally low. Ghost fishing through lost fishing gear is also an issue of concern.


Dive fisheries typically involve hand collection of the target species, Abalone and rock lobster, sea cucumber and sea urchins are common.

Dive fisheries are considered to have less of an impact on the surrounding marine ecosystem then other methods. However, intensive hand collection can cause localised stock depletion.


Pots and traps can be used to catch a variety of fish and crustaceans. Mud crabs, blue swimmer crabs and rock lobster are species commonly targeted with these methods. The structure generally consists of a mesh body, with one way entrances leading into a baited enclosure. These techniques have a relatively low impact on habitat and are highly selective.

The entanglement of sea turtles and marine mammals in marker ropes is a leading concern in pot and trap fisheries.


Dredging is a technique primarily targeting bottom dwelling molluscs such as scallops and clams. The dredge comprises of a steel bar with rigid teeth attached to its base. As the dredge is towed behind the vessel, the catch is ploughed from the seafloor and collected in a mesh net or cage.

Dredging is amongst the most destructive methods of fishing in these habitats and is highly unselective, with high levels of bottom dwelling fish and invertebrates often caught as by-catch.


Purse seine fishing is a technique targeting pelagic (surface/open ocean) schooling fish such as tuna and mackerel. The vessel surrounds the school with netting before bringing the bottom together into a purse-like enclosure .They can take total schools of fish in this manner, with catches of half a million fish taken at a time or for the bigger species hundreds of thousands in one catch.


Open ocean longlining vessels deploy expansive lengths of baited hooks, whilst pursuing apex predators such as billfish, tuna and sharks. These lines are commonly between 10-100km long, and have thousands of baited hooks spaced consistently on branching lines (snoods). They can be run along the seafloor or on the surface.

The major concern in pelagic longline fisheries is that of bycatch. Seabirds such as albatross and petrels frequently drown after being caught diving for the baited hooks and they cause the entanglement of sea turtles and marine mammals.

Also the fish can be impaled in the hooks for hours or even days and suffer during a much longer period.


Pelagic (surface/open ocean) gillnets are systems of netting with highly specific mesh sizes. Gillnets as long as 2.5km, are placed vertically in the water column with the use of buoys and weights. Large fish become entangled in the net (commonly around the gills)

Due to the large expanses of netting, by-catch of turtles, diving seabirds and marine mammals is of great concern.


Trawling involves the towing of large nets behind one or more fishing vessels. Pelagic trawls rely on filtering enormous volumes of water in order to increase catch success. Net are HUGE, several hundred metres wide.

Captured fish are funnelled into the back section of the net which is known as the cod-end. This method is commonly used to catch schooling pelagic species such as tuna and mackerel.

By-catch is high with shark, marine mammal and seabirds can be significant, particularly to dolphin pods pursuing shoaling fish. Tens of thousands of sea turtles get snagged on these and drown every year.

Super trawlers can drag their nets through the water for several hours, if a dolphin, shark or turtle becomes enmeshed it's highly unlikely that they'll be able to escape. These animals will then either drown — or be crushed to death by the sheer weight of the fish around them.

Seafloor trawling hauls HUGE nets, across the ocean floor.

Fish such as flathead, flounder and orange roughy are commonly targeted with the use of seafloor trawls.

Bottom trawls causes high amounts of damage to the seafloor in fragile habitats. It is one of the worst for the marine ecosystem and terrible for by-catch.


I encourage you to read Paul Watsons view on eating seafood as it sums up my sentiments exactly.

We are feeding fish to cats, pigs, and chickens, and we are sucking tens of thousands of small fish from the sea to feed larger fish raised in cages. House cats are eating more fish than seals; pigs are eating more fish than sharks; and factory-farmed chickens are eating more fish than puffins and albatross.

With other factors like increased acidification, global warming, chemical pollution, and ozone depletion causing plankton populations to decline, we are waging a global assault on all life in our oceans. The fish cannot compete with our excessive demands. We have already removed 90% of the large commercial fish from the sea. Chinese demand for shark fins is destroying practically every species of shark in the ocean.

Whereas the fishing industry once targeted and destroyed the large fish, they are now focusing on the smaller fish, the fish that have always fed the larger fish. Of the top ten fisheries in the world today, seven of them now target the small fish. If the fish are too small to feed to people, they are simply ground up into fishmeal to feed domestic animals and farm raised salmon or tuna.

Aquaculture has also now emerged as the most wasteful utilization of fish and is the economic engine driving the intensive exploitation of small fish.

And now Japanese and Norwegian fisheries are extracting tens of thousands of tons of plankton from the sea to convert into a protein rich animal feed.

This week a report on the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes that 80% of all marine fish stocks are currently fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion; including stocks of the 7 largest prey fisheries. Very few marine fish populations remain with the potential to sustain production increases, and more have now reached their limit than ever before.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not taking an animal rights position on this issue when we say that people must stop eating fish and stop eating meat that fish are fed to. Our position is based solely on the ecological reality that commercial fishing is destroying our oceans.

We all know this. We are all aware of this diminishment. We feel it in our gut. The ecological reality is not only staring us in the face, it is kicking us in the teeth. The problem is that we are in absolute denial and we refuse to acknowledge that by stripping life from the seas, we will be undermining the foundation for our survival on land.






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Australia has slaughtered over 31.5 million kangaroos in 10 years, which makes it the largest killing of land-based wildlife in the world.

There are around 50 species of kangaroos, but when the population is calculated, the number is generally totalled together, which influences the indication of how many of each species there actually are.

The four larger species are killed by both ‘harvesters’ for the kangaroo industry and farmers as pests, and are the Red kangaroo, Eastern and Western Grey kangaroo and the Common Wallaroo.

Of 58 species of kangaroos that were in Australia at European settlement, eight are now extinct and a further 14 are threatened with extinction. The loss of these species is part of a wave of extinction that has seen at least 29 species from Australia’s unique mammal fauna disappear forever. Many of these species were thought to be able to sustain harvests - but didn’t.

Australia already has the world's worst record for wildlife extinctions, with 23 birds, 78 frogs, and 27 mammal species (including kangaroos) having vanished forever since Western settlement.

Victoria actually stopped commercial shooting in 1982 because 85 per cent of the state had less than one kangaroo per square kilometre. The commercial kangaroo industry is active in four of the mainland states: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

There has been a push in Victoria to reopen the harvest of kangaroos there, this push coincided with the minister of Agriculture being given the care of “Wildlife”, perhaps a conflict of interest?

The four species of kangaroos are killed for two reasons, firstly because farmers find them to be a pest even though numerous government studies have concluded that they do not compete for food or water with stock or cropping, unless in extreme drought conditions. Just a few of these include the six year study found only slight evidence of competition between sheep and kangaroos in times of extreme drought (Edwards et al. 1995; 1996). Another study also concluded that Red Kangaroos have little or no impact on either the body mass or reproductive output of sheep or the growth and survivorship of lambs. (McLeod 1996) One sheep consumes as much as 5 kangaroos, one cow as much as 12 kangaroos – cited in Olsen & Low 2006.

Considering over 53 % of Australia (81% of Queensland) is used as agricultural land, this does not leave too much space for Australia’s wildlife to live without being on the land of farmers. Add the pressure of urbanisation and roads, kangaroos have lost most land that they are considered welcome to be on.

Normally in NSW and still in other states, farmers legally are required to obtain a permit to kill kangaroos on their land. However there is no policing occurring and no previous legal action taken where farmers have killed kangaroos with out these permits. Australia’s farming land is vast and hard to manage considering this.

NSW introduced new laws in 2018 to permit farmers to kill kangaroos after just an email or a phone call. They do not need to “tag” the carcasses of kangaroos - which was the manner they were managed, despite there being many loop holes in even this protocol.

Kanagroos, “protected wildlife,” are also killed for the kangaroo meat industry, which supplies meat to Australia and exports overseas.

In 2001, 75% of the kangaroos slaughtered for meat, went to pet food. The industry has been marketing heavily to promote it for human consumption.

The campaign is that kangaroos are the environmentally friendly option for meat due to the reasons that kangaroos do not put extra pressure on the land or water, as cattle and sheep do. This is true. The campaign also is how they get to live a life of freedom, not caged like in factory farms. This is also true.

However if every person in Australia (26 million) had a kangaroo steak, once per week, we would run out of kangaroos in a year or two. Causing the extinction of a wild animal would not be classified as environmental.

To provide Australians only one small portion of kangaroo meat per week, 22 million kangaroos would have to "harvested" a year. The total population of kangaroos would need to be 151 million to support this offtake. This is more than five times the 30-year average population of 27 million, to provide one serving of meat per Australian a week.

Kangaroos cannot be farmed. They have the ability to stop a pregnancy when stressed. They also develop capture myopathy: a syndrome of complex primary and secondary pathological changes in many organs, particularly in skeletal and cardiac muscle that may: i. be precipitated by prolonged muscular exertion, e.g. pursuit by predators or during capture and restraint; ii. occur as a result of fear and anxiety without overt physical activity, e.g. during close confinement or placement in an unfamiliar environment; and iii. cause acute death or lead to chronic debility.

Shooters who kill the kangaroos are called harvesters.

They used to kill both female and make kangaroos for the meat and skin industry.

When harvesters shot the female kangaroos, they would either bash the joey over the head to kill them, or leave them to die a slow death of starvation and exposure. This happened to over 500 million baby kangaroos per year. When the international population found out about this, there was an outcry. Some countries would not import the meat due to this. To combat the issue, a couple of years ago the Kanagroo industry has made it a ‘male-only’ kill.

The issue with this is:

  1. If the harvester shoots a female kangaroo, they leave them there to die and no one will know due to the impossibility of monitoring in such vast isolated locations.

  2. Kangaroos live in mob structures. The males spend their lives preening and grooming themselves to attempt to become the alpha male. The alpha male gets to impregnate all the females for a few years until challenged by the next alpha male who wins. The alpha is the strongest, biggest and fittest male in the mob. Nature has evolved this way very deliberately to pass down the stonrgest genes to the future generations, to help the survival of the kangaroo in the harsh Australian climate and to hep protect them against epidemics (think of the Tassie devil, where one disease will cause a whole species to become extinct)

    Now the harvest is killing only males, are targeting the large ones for the most price for the meat, they are killing off the alpha males. The ones who pass down the strong genes. Numerous observations from people in the field show that this is impacting the size already of the Kanagroo and will impact what the kangaroo looks like in the future. They will become smaller and weaker as we remove the strongest, healthiest genes from the gene pool. Removing the alpha males is also destroying the natural regulation of the mob strucute.

In notes taken by Bev Selway at a South Australian Kangaroo Management Meeting in November 2001, (imagine now!) questions were raised about the small sizes of kangaroos being killed. In response the participants noted that “there are not many big 'roos left, just this garbage stuff", another that "To see a big kangaroo is a rarity". Also noted were comments that "If you keep shooting the big stuff, you only have runts” and “ If you keep this up you will only be left with runts". More comments included " We are not taking a cull, we are harvesting the best" and "Some skins we get are the size of handkerchiefs"

For example the Red kangaroo in 1960 average age was 12 and 35kg now it is 2 years old and 18kg.

Kangaroos are shot in the wild, in often extremely remote locations and at night, when they are most active. Without independent oversight, issues of non-compliance, welfare and potential cruelty are not able to be addressed. While shooters are required by Commercial and Non-Commercial Codes of Practice to aim to shoot a kangaroo in the brain and therefore achieve an instantaneous death, studies show this is not the case, with some data collected even indicating the figure of body shots being as high as 40% which would mean the Kanagroo suffered before dying.

Research by the RSPCA in Australia and Animal Liberation NSW has suggested that around 120,000 kangaroos a year are inhumanely killed but the number could be much higher (according to Thinkk [University of Technology Sydney] up to a million), as there is no one there to monitor the many kangaroos shot – but not killed outright – that will escape into the bush to die a slow, painful death. Dr John Auty, veterinary scientist and former Chief Agronomist, says: "Shooters often have a thorough contempt for the law. They commit cruelty on a regular basis."

A former commercial kangaroo shooter decribes a shoot: "The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverized to an unrecognisable state etc. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of either. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public."14



To count the population of the Kanagroos in Australia, a huge country, many guesses come into play.

While on the news, kangaroos are labelled to be in “plague proportions”, many scientists have indicated that in areas of harvesting, entire local populations are completely gone. This is even though the photos in the press show big mobs gathering into particular areas during droughts, as they come to find food, making it appear there is an abundance of them (which there are in one area but we must remember it does not represent the rest of the country)

Yet, since 2001 there has been an overall drop of 12,577,598 kangaroos in the areas where they are hunted (according to the Australian Government's own figures).

Analysis of NSW government count data obtained under FOI by scientist Ray Mjadwesch showed up to 64% of NSW western survey transects are returning zero counts of kangaroos.

Also recorded by the Government is the entire kangaroo population halving in years when there are significant droughts.

In Western Australia alone, Red Kangaroo estimates showed the population to be 638 185 in 2016, the lowest since 1981. In 2001 the estimate was 2,742100, showing a serious significant decrease, especially when considering correction factors have increased.

The only places kangaroos are safe from persecution of the cull are in the 8% of the state that are national parks.

Female kangaroos often have a joey either at foot or in the pouch. While this gives the illusion they breed quickly, reports confirm that up to 70% of joeys do not survive the first year of life. It takes about 18 months for a joey to be fully weaned. Thus a kangaroo can raise only one joey to independence per year and of these only 30% will survive.

Studies have found that during drought up to 100 per cent juvenile mortality can occur, with up to 40 to 60 per cent adult mortality. Flooding rains also cause mass or epidemic mortality events in kangaroos as well as diseases. As an example, in 1998 some 300,000 counted kangaroos died suddenly over two weeks in a 30,000 square kilometre area in south-western Queensland and north-western New South Wales.

Some reports to the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change amplify concern about kangaroo populations.

For example, 'Kangaroo monitoring: Hunter and Central Tablelands commercial harvest zones design and analysis of helicopter survey,’ shows that in one case 26 actual, counted kangaroos were multiplied by 1,456 to become a final population of over 37,000 animals in the Armidale region. That occurred in 2007. In the central tablelands, 1,362 actual, counted eastern greys were extrapolated into a population of 535,600.

This occurs because of their methodology in counting popualtions. When you look at the actual numbers of population counts over the last 10 years, it shows correction factors have continued to increase. This gives the impression that the kangaroo population is increasing but if you keep the correction factors the same across all population counts, the figures show that kangaroo numbers are actually they are decreasing.

“The number of transects has often doubled from one survey session to the next. Transect widths have been narrowed without a corresponding lowering of detection factors. Transects overfly national parks and other non-shooting areas, with those numbers applied to surrounding empty landscapes. For example, roughly half the transects in the central tablelands shooting zone overfly national parks and other non-shooting kangaroo habitat. Those non-shooting areas are removed from the equation to further inflate extrapolated densities of empty landscapes. Transects that continually show no kangaroos over regional landscapes have been dumped. This has happened for parts of western New South Wales. Finally, correction or detection factors, a number by which actual, counted numbers are multiplied, are continually increased. This can result in the multiplying of actual counts by up to 300 to 500 per cent. So this flawed methodology is how we see biologically impossible jumps in the number of kangaroos-the so-called population explosions.

In the Bourke kangaroo management zone, the latest survey report asserts that from 2011 to 2012, a year bookended by drought in rural New South Wales, kangaroo populations apparently increased by 249 per cent. Yet this nonsense of a population growth rate of 249 per cent in one year has not been challenged. Growth rates of 50 per cent or more are regularly reported by the department's consultants, but that would require true male-female parity, every female successfully raising young to independence and no animals at all dying for 12 months.” Lee Rhiannon, GREENS



In 2009 Russia banned the importation of kangaroo meat after consistent bacterial E.Coli contamination and human safety fears. Russia was the biggest importer, taking 70% of kangaroo meat and the Australian Government invested at least $400,000 to attempt to get the market open again with no luck. More recent government testing also found violations of health and safety regulations.

Canada has also banned the importation of kangaroo meat.

From June 2018 kangaroo meat has been removed from all major UK supermarkets.

California banned kangaroo goods again in 2015, despite the department of agriculture paid $143,000 to the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia to pay US firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby senate members.

The Food Empowerment Project lodged an official complaint, claiming the Australian government did not properly register the lobbying.

The biggest importers currently are Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands followed by South Africa. Yet the industry is focusing their efforts to get into China. China still has not approved kangaroo meat imports.



The head of the Kangaroo Industry, John Kelly, had an under-cover investigation into his personal possum meat business, Lenah Meats and it was aired by the ABC. The footage exposed cruelty in the slaughterhouse of terrified, bloodied possums being chased by workers across the killing floor. John Kelly took them to court due to the filming being taken without his consent… which was argued that if there is nothing to hide it would not matter?

The South Australian Government put in 1.8 million dollars towards the upgrade of the processing facility of Macro Meats, one of the largest Kanagroo processing plants in Australia, owned by Ray Borda. He was the largest individual sponsor in the greyhound racing. He pulled out sponsoring after the Four Corners expose but continues to own and race greyhounds.

All meat for Macro Meat must be driven to processing plant in SA near Adelaide. It can take 3 days of driving to get there from northen queensland.

Kangaroo carcesses are now allowed to be in chillers for 14 days between shooting until they are processed. It used to be 7 days but in the investagtion leading up to 2009 many tags where found to be over 10 days old. Instead of addressing the issue of the hygiene of such long periods, the government lengthened the time that it was considered acceptable to 14 days.

Macro Meats exclusively supplies kangaroo meat to Australian supermarket chains.



Between $2.7 and $5.5 billion of the $71.3 billion tourism industry results from wildlife tourism, with kangaroos the most popular attraction. The Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) says 67.5 per cent of all international tourists want to see native animals, but most are disappointed not to see them in the wild, only in zoos.

Australia used to also hunt whales for an industry but now makes millions through whale watching. Many people point out we could do the same with our wild kangaroos rather than killing them in masses.


Live Export



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Every year, around three million live animals are exported from Australia for slaughter overseas. The majority of these are sheep. The rest are mostly cattle.

1.7 million sheep were exported live to eight countries, mostly in the Middle East in 2017.

They are transported on vessels that carry up to 85000 sheep. Stocking densities allowed by Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) are much higher than any land-based feedlot or intensive housing system.

Once on board an export vessel, animals can be confined with no space, no ventilation and in filth and extremely high temperatures for up to 5 weeks.

Over the years, more than 3 million Australian animals have died, often horrifically.

Before being transported, sheep are transferred from a pasture-based diet to unnatural concentrated pellets, which some sheep understandably reject. These sheep that don’t take to this new diet can develop salmonellosis and die, accounting for around half of sheep mortalities.

High temperatures and poor ventilation can contribute to fatal heat stroke. Trapped in what is essentially a ‘giant oven’, extremely heat stressed animals collapse before literally being cooked alive. Other heat stressed sheep may die slowly over the following days. Those who survive the heat stress, will continue to suffer in the hot mix of excretment that is now littered with the decaying bodies of their dead companions.

More than 100,000 litres of urine and faeces accumulates on a typical live export ship every day sheep are on board. The ship won’t be ‘washed out’ until after they’ve disembarked. Animal waste generates ammonia gas and with tens of thousands of animals excreting in a confined space for up to 5 weeks, there are high ammonia concentrations on board vessels. This irritates the animal’s eyes, nasal cavities and respiratory tracts, resulting in crying, coughing and nasal discharge.

  • In 2013, more than 4,000 Australian sheep died on board the Bader III as temperatures in the Gulf soared — turning the ship they were traveling on into a floating oven.

  • The deadliest sheep voyage of the past 10 years departed Adelaide with 44,713 sheep on board on August 2013, picking up another 30,795 sheep in Fremantle five days later. Heat stress claimed 4,050 sheep in a single day as the wet bulb temperature reached 38C when the ship arrived in Qatar.

  • The voyage of the Awassi shown in Ullah’s footage left Fremantle on 1 August 2017 with 63,804 sheep on board for Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. More than 2,400 sheep, or 3.76% of the total load, died on route, above the mandatory reportable mortality rate of 2%.

  • 20,000 Australian sheep were brutally massacred in Pakistan in 2012. One by one they were stabbed, clubbed and buried alive. Some still alive hours later.

  • 61 regulation breaches were documented in only 3 nights in Indonesia – including extreme cruelty to cattle, who were being cut up while still alive.

  • In Kuwait it has been documented again and again that sheep are illegally sold at a notoriously cruel market with the animals panting in distress during 50 degree days, stuffed into car boots, dragged onto concrete slabs, into private residences and local abattoirs – all to face cruel un-stunned slaughter.

  • In August 2012 an Australian ship carrying approximately 22,000 sheep was blocked from unloading in Kuwait and Bahrain after local authorities claimed that the animals had scabby mouth disease. The sheep had already been at sea for 33 days and were left on board for almost two weeks longer, suffering in temperatures of up to 38 degrees. Eventually the sheep were unloaded in Pakistan, where it was later reported that around 9,000 of the sheep had been killed on suspicion that they were diseased.

Once livestock reach their port of destination the animals are outside the control of Australian law. The Australian Government cannot ensure that exported livestock are slaughtered humanely once they have left Australia. Despite claims by the government and industry that this system protects Australian animals, Australian Government regulation does not have legal effect in foreign jurisdictions.

For example, stunning before slaughter is not a requirement for exported animals and there is huge amounts of evidence showing inhumane slaughter and handling practices that do not follow Australian laws and standards done to Australian sheep.

Under Australian Government regulation the animals are not permitted to be sold to individual buyers, however, ‘leakages’ from approved supply chains occur regularly.

Evidence has shown that individual buyers in some countries will often transport sheep in car boots and on roof-racks in temperatures that may exceed 40°C. To prevent the sheep from moving their legs are tightly bound together with wire.

Sheep have been documented being herded into a slaughterhouse, and then dragged to have their throats are cut and they are left to bleed to death over a drain. Cattle have had their tendons slashed and sometimes their eyes gouged in order to bring them down and, finally, their throats cut, often with blunt knives requiring multiple cuts, and are left to bleed to death.

In 2011, Australia suspended its live trade to Indonesia for six months after ABC TV 4 Corners investigation showed graphic footage of animals being great and widely mistreated.

Legislation to phase out live sheep exports within five years and end the trade to the Middle East during the northern summer passed the Senate but in October 2018 this bill to ban live sheep export failed to pass the Upper House because the Morrison government stepped in and stopped the bill from even being debated in Parliament.

Animals Australia took the Federal Government to court, to establish that the decision to ship 58,000 sheep into the furnace of the Middle East’s summer was unlawful, but before they even got to trial, the Federal government conceded that the animals were exported unlawfully BUT not for the same reason… court documents showed that the Department of Agriculture made a legal error in granting the permit. This means the Department of Agriculture, already under investigation for regulatory failures) permitted these sheep to be exported without legal authority or a valid lawful export permit.

If (hopefully when) the livestock trade is shut down, Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said it was possible for them to be processed - slaughtered - here.

In 2018 the licence of Australia’s biggest exporter, Emanuel Exports, was suspended “pending a full review of the company’s response to a show-cause notice” as to why its licence should not be cancelled.

Israel has been in support of stopping the trade due to animal welfare issues, they introduced a bill in 2018, at the same time, 228 lawyers in Israel signed a petition for live shipments to cease and 60 rabbis also condemned live exports. This is continuing to be debated there.

A 2012 survey found that 78 per cent of Australians believed live exports were cruel and 74 per cent were more likely to vote for a political candidate who promised to end live animal export.

LABOR has committed to ending Live Export if voted in May, 2019.

In 2003 NZ also banned the live sheep trade after Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of 57,000 sheep on board the MV Cormo Express.





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Meat, dairy and egg products, and some entertainment industries such as horse or greyhound racing, involve the slaughtering (killing) of animals, whether directly for human consumption, or as “waste products” of the industry. Most of this killing is carried out at slaughterhouses, also known as abattoirs, which operate primarily for human consumption. Animals deemed unfit or unsuitable for human consumption are killed at similar, but generally much smaller, facilities called knackeries. By-products from slaughterhouses or knackeries that are not for human consumption are processed at facilities called rendering plants; sometimes the rendering plants are located within the same facility.

Slaughterhouses can range from being huge industrial facilities with hundreds of workers, to small sheds with only a handful of employees, or even backyard operations run entirely by the owner of the property. There are roughly 250-300 commercial slaughterhouses in Australia, though many of these are no longer operating. The slaughterhouse workforce in Australia consists of around 25,000 employees. It is a predominantly young workforce with around half of all workers younger than 35.

In 2016, there were 278 licensed slaughterhouses in Britain.

Travel distances are key to stress levels of the animals before slaughter, with the longer an animal travels in a truck, the more stressed it is when it arrives at an abattoir. Food and water can be stopped for time periods before slaughter, when travelling. For example:

Most animals slaughtered for food in Australia have their throats cut open with a knife (referred to as “sticking”) so that they can be bled out. Prior to this, they are typically meant to be unconscious (though as of 2011, 15+ abattoirs in Australia have permission from state governments to slit the throats of fully conscious animals, as part of the religious practices of “halal” and “kosher” slaughter). There are three main methods of ‘stunning’ intended to make animals unconscious before slaughter: captive bolt, electric, and gas chambers.

Captive bolt stunning

Also called “percussion stunning”, this method produces a physical shock to the brain. The captive bolt, if used correctly, causes irreversible damage to the animal’s brain, and can be used on cattle, pigs, sheep and goats as well as horses and camels, although electrical stunning is more common for pigs and sheep. The captive bolt method of stunning is used throughout the world, and due to the minimal running costs is the preferred method in many developing countries.

There are two main varieties of captive bolt gun: penetrating and non-penetrating.

A penetrating captive bolt gun fires a blank cartridge, propelling a short bolt (metal rod) from the barrel through the skull bone and producing concussion by damaging the brain or increasing intracranial pressure, causing bruising of the brain. Some types of penetrating captive bolt guns have a handle and a trigger, while others have a hand-held barrel which, when tapped against the skull of the animal, sets off the cartridge explosion.

A non-penetrating captive bolt gun features a blunt bolt with a mushroom-shaped tip, which strikes the forehead of the animal with great force and immediately retracts, causing concussion and rendering the animal unconscious.

Electrical stunning

Electric stunning renders the animal unconscious by passing an electric current through the animal's brain. It is the usual method of stunning for pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry.

For pigs, sheep and goats, a low voltage alternating electric current is applied by means of two electrodes, which are placed on either side of the brain (or underneath the jaw and on the back of the neck) using tongs.

For poultry, an electrified water bath is used. Birds are shackled upside-down by their feet and dragged through a trough of water that is charged with a low voltage current. Birds that lift their heads (or are smaller than normal) manage to avoid the bath and go on to be painfully killed without stunning.

Because electric stunning does not usually cause damage to the brain, animals will regain consciousness if not quickly killed and bled out.

Gas chambers

Also called “controlled atmosphere stunning” or “controlled atmosphere killing”, this method involves placing animals into a container or chamber which lacks oxygen and contains an asphyxiant gas (one or more of carbon dioxide (CO2), argon or nitrogen), causing the animals to lose consciousness and, if left in the chamber long enough, to die.

The vast majority of pigs killed for food in Australia are stunned in carbon dioxide (CO2) gas chambers. While there are different models of chamber used, the more common variety is roughly 7-10m deep; the gas, being heavier than oxygen, sits below the level of the entrance. Inside this type of chamber, there are 5 or so steel cages known as gondolas. Pigs are forced by use of an electric prodder into the gondola (3 at a time for 5-6 month old “growers”, or 1 sow), which is then lowered into the gas. Hidden camera footage inside these chambers (Corowa slaughterhouse NSW, Big River Pork slaughterhouse SA) shows that the pigs suffer immensely, screaming and thrashing for air and trying desperately to escape as the gas suffocates them. The gondola eventually comes up the other side of the chamber and tips the unconscious pigs out onto a bench where they are shackled before having their throats cut open.

It is becoming increasingly common for poultry slaughterhouses to use gas chambers for stunning and killing, rather than the traditional method of electric stunning.

Australian law dictates that all animals must be stunned so that they are insensible to pain prior to slaughter. However, there are exemptions given to a number of abattoirs (15+ as of 2011) to meet a small demand in Australia for religious slaughter (all kosher and some halal products).

Halal slaughter

While all commercial chicken abattoirs in Australia attempt to stun chickens prior to slaughter (including halal chicken), some halal killing of sheep, cattle and goats does not involve pre-slaughter stunning.

Halal slaughter of sheep involves the cutting of both the carotid arteries and jugular veins. If they are not completely severed, the animal is then supposed to be stunned.

Cattle are kept in an upright position with the head and body restrained. After their throats are cut, they are stunned with a captive bolt pistol. Compared to sheep, cattle have an extra blood supply to the brain through the back of the neck, so cutting their throat does not lead to unconsciousness as quickly.

Kosher slaughter

Kosher slaughter does not involve stunning. Kosher meat must be slaughtered in a particular way so as to be “fit and proper” for people of the Jewish faith to consume, and must not contain any blood. The animals must be killed by a rabbi specially trained in religious slaughter. A sharp knife is used to cut the oesophagus, the trachea, carotid arteries and jugular veins in one action. Excessive pressure on the blade is forbidden. The animal is raised so blood flows out and this is then covered with dirt. Failure to do any of these acts correctly means the animal is considered unfit to eat.

Investigations showing cruelty

Export abattoirs require a Department of Agriculture vet to be on site during the slaughter process, but domestic meat abattoirs are only required to employ an internal animal welfare officer. Yet even with an external vet, there were 55 reports of animal welfare breaches at Australia export abattoirs between 2009 and 2011, including many relating to ill, injured, moribund or "DOA" animals at export facilities. The breaches ranged from animals with pink eye and gangrene infections to ingrown horns, broken limbs and cattle in the very late stages of pregnancy, some full term and calving on arrival. Emergency slaughter was often required, yet in many cases it was not clear what action, if any, state authorities took after receiving incident reports from Department of Agriculture vets.

The NSW Food Authority recently uncovered animal welfare breaches at all 10 of the state's domestic slaughterhouse.

Despite this, there's still no way of knowing which meat-processing facility your supermarket steak has come from.

Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White says the lack of independent oversight in domestic abattoirs leaves farm animals "incredibly vulnerable". Animals Australia, together with the RSPCA, has called for the introduction of CCTV in all domestic abattoirs to increase transparency in an effort to protect both animal welfare and consumer interests.

As the repetitive undercover investigations reveal cruelty going unchecked, it seems that Government regulation and audits are failing.

Just some common examples seen in the under-cover exposes are:

  • Animals not being stunned correctly and still being conscious when having body parts removed

  • Workers being violent with the animals - kicking, punching or over prodding them with electrical stunners

  • Workers swearing at the animals or laughing at them while physically hurting them

Below are again, just some recorded investigations of slaughterhouses.

November 23rd 2016:

Over 1,000 videos were sent to authorities cataloging abuses to cows, week-old calves, goats and sheep. But one pig suffered worst of all. She was still conscious after being struck four times with a captive bolt gun. She thrashed and moaned, desperate for help or mercy, as workers stood over her swearing, and even laughing at her pain. Then they shot her. Twice. Her ordeal at the hands of these slaughterhouse workers lasted longer than six agonising minutes.

May 8th 2014:

In a world-first, video has been released from inside the gas chambers of a NSW slaughterhouse owned by Rivalea — the 'biggest' and the 'best' in the business. Footage shows pigs screaming and thrashing as they gasp for air inside the abattoir's gas chambers. One lame pig, unable to enter the gas chamber, is dragged, kicked, and shocked repeatedly with an electric prod.

March 21st 2013:

Turkeys are being sadistically abused at an Ingham's slaughterhouse in NSW. An investigation by Animal Liberation, aired on ABC's Lateline, has revealed workers repeatedly kicking, punching, and kneeing birds, as well as slamming them into walls and stomping on them — apparently for fun. One worker even tried to rip the heads off live birds.

Feb 1st 2013:

Lateline has revealed the latest in a string of shocking Australian slaughterhouse cruelty cases; this time involving the abuse of week-old bobby calves at an Echuca slaughterhouse.

Jan 18th 2013:

Cruelty charges have been laid against the Sydney slaughterhouse and one of its ex-employees, following an RSPCA investigation sparked by the footage taken by Animal Liberation NSW. Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors had been inspected four times in the year before the footage was taken. What happened when the inspectors left?

May 18th 2012:

In response to shocking footage filmed by Animal Liberation NSW at a Sydney slaughterhouse, the NSW Food Authority has conducted a review of all domestic slaughterhousesin NSW that kill sheep, cattle, goats and pigs. What they found was even more shocking: Animal welfare breaches were uncovered at every domestic slaughterhouse in NSW, including "incompetency of slaughtering staff" and ineffective stunning — meaning some animals may have been fully conscious at slaughter. Sadly the NSW government's announced package to address these problems does not include installation of CCTV, but rather relies largely on training and more self-regulation.

Nov 24th 2011:

Victorian authorities closed down a slaughterhouse in Gippsland after Animals Australia provided footage of animal welfare breaches inside the facility. In just 90 minutes enough evidence of cruelty was captured of the final moments of a group of young pigs to have this slaughterhouse's license withdrawn.

“For nearly six months, I worked undercover inside Quality Pork Processors (QPP) QPP kills about 1,300 pigs every hour operating under the high-speed pilot program. That’s more than 21 pigs per minute, making QPP one of the fastest pig-killing facilities in the nation.

QPP has widely been considered a model for the USDA’s nationwide expansion of the pilot program through NSIS, but when no one thought the public or USDA was watching, behind the slaughterhouse’s closed doors, I documented pig carcasses covered in feces and abscesses being processed for human consumption, and workers – under intense pressure to keep up with high line speeds – beating, dragging, and electrically prodding pigs to make them move faster.”

A veteran USDA meat inspector from Texas describes what he has seen: "Cattle dragged and choked... knocking 'em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they're stunned they come back to life, and they're up there agonizing. They're supposed to be re-stunned but sometimes they aren't and they'll go through the skinning process alive. I've worked in four large [slaughterhouses] and a bunch of small ones. They're all the same. If people were to see this, they'd probably feel really bad about it. But in a packing house everybody gets so used to it that it doesn't mean anything."

This is not to say that all workers, or all slaughterhouses have these obscenities occurring however, the findings are consistent enough to confirm there are animal cruelty cases systemically through the slaughterhouse industry and, at the least, it begs the need for CCTV.

There are around 75 abattoirs that slaughter pigs in Australia.

Eighty five per cent of pigs are slaughtered at seven export abattoirs across Australia.

““We do 4,000-4,500 pigs a week, whereas the super-abattoirs can do 6,000 a day.”

Australia’s largest poultry processing establishment kills and processes 33 million birds per year, or 630,000 birds a week.

Fast slaughter times and internal policing increases the risk of animal cruelty but also, importantly, food safety.

In Australia, all certified organic meat has been slaughtered in a certified slaughterhouse facility as per the Australian Certified Organic Standard requirements. ACO has 21 slaughterhouses accredited as organic. One of their priorities is to make sure that the organically raised animals they slaughter and their dead bodies are not contaminated with biological or chemical agents from animals who were not raised organically. While killing is done in the same manner, there are some small tweaks outlined for organic slaughtering such as:

6.2.3. Social groups shall be maintained and not mixed at the holding pens to point of slaughter.

6.2.6. Where stock are to be held longer than 24 hours from time of beginning of transport to kill, certified organic feed and potable quality drinking water shall be made available to all stock. In such instances, clean and dry areas shall be made available for stock to lie down. At no time shall certified stock have access to uncertified feeds or pasture.

6.2.9. Processing runs of certified stock shall take place first run of the morning. Where this is not possible, full clean-down procedures shall take place from unloading ramps through the entire abattoir/processing operation to ensure no cross-contamination. This shall include steam pressure or equivalent wash down of internal facility contact surfaces where sanitisers, bleaches and other cleaning agents have been used.

6.2.10. Animals shall be separated from sight of beasts being slaughtered.

6.2.11. For bovines, animals shall be rendered unconscious prior to shackling and hoisting.

Free-range is slaughtered at same slaughterhouse as industrial raised meat.

A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees and the Possibility of Redress through Legal Reform

Blood, Sweat and Fear: Workers' Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants

Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, Gail Eisnitz





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Industrialised farming uses chemical fertilisers made from fossil fuel derivatives that are used to add nutrients to the soil and may include the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds. While there may not be effects shown immediately from ingesting chemicals from herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and other stimulants used in industrial vegetable and meat and dairy from factory farmed animals, the health risks come from when these are consumed, in small amounts over periods of time. Such as when we eat, three times a day, every day, for years - food that is grown with these chemicals.

A build-up of these toxic chemicals in the human body can lead to various diseases including cancers, as well as having neurological, mental and reproductive effects.

Industrialised agriculture tends to grow large mono-crops of single food varieties, which results in reducing biodiversity.

Organic farming nourishes the soil using organic fertilisers such as compost and controls invasive species through a mixture of companion planting, crop rotation, use of cover crops, natural pest control, hand weeding and animal grazing. In organic farming genetically modified seeds are not permitted and requires seeds to be organically grown. Organic farmers will often save seeds from previous crops and use rare and heirloom seed varieties, preserving the biodiversity of our food.

There are currently no laws in Australia to protect the use of the word ‘organic’ being used on product labels unless they are being exported. To be certain that you are purchasing truly organic, check it has been certified organic by one of the seven recognised certification bodies that are accredited and audited by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS). You can also buy ‘chemical-free’ fruit and vegetables from farmers markets, who may grow their food organically but do not want to certify - this requires getting to trust and know your farmers!

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These are the EWG’s 12 highest pesticide containing vegetables and fruits, found in 2018. They recommend buying these organic when possible. To learn more, check out EWG.


In Australia, consumers may be misled by the fact that labelling legislation does not require producers to disclose information about farm production methods and there are numerous advertising terms often used, such as with eggs: caged, battery, barn-laid, free-range, open-range, range, grain-fed, free-to-roam, omega-3, bred free-range, organic and biodynamic. It makes it hard to navigate especially when packaging uses positive imagery and ambiguous terms like ‘farm fresh’ or ‘grown nature’s way’ to describe animal-derived food products. In this way, producers shield consumers from the realities of intensive farming practices. There are some labels that can only be used when certified certain standards have been met, but then there are others, that may give the impression of high standards, but are not…

Voiceless believes a nationally consistent approach to labelling legislation is the best approach for honest welfare labelling and consumer choice, including:

  • a mandatory labelling regime for all animal products clearly indicating the farm production method;

  • a uniform set of defined terms of farm production methods that are linked to uniform animal protection standards;

  • a regulatory monitoring and enforcement system (through consumer protection legislation) that ensures compliance with labelling laws;

  • an extensive public education campaign to assist consumers in understanding the various production standards and systems and the descriptions on the labels;

  • a ‘traffic light’ labelling system that differentiates between low, medium and high levels of animal welfare, also linked to the animal protection standards; and

  • the placement of photos or images of animals on the products that reflect the animal production system used.

Effective, enforceable and nationally consistent truth in labelling legislation is the only way that consumers can make truly informed choices.



Cows, hens and pigs on certified organic farms, including dairy farms, can only be fed certified organic feed. They are not permitted to be fed routine antibiotics or other medication. Bobby calves on organic dairy farms are still taken from the mother and killed, unless a specific farm chooses not to.

Organic standards prohibit cows and sheep being confined to a feedlot – they must have continuous access to pasture.

Use of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers on pasture is prohibited.

Currently organic dairy has 10% of the market share in Australia. Organic dairy is the largest organic category in organic food world wide, with 19% of the global market in 2016.



Australian Certified Organic is one of six government-approved organic certifying bodies who mandates that chickens always have access to the outdoors during daylight hours, no matter what their age. ACO caps outdoor stocking rates at 2500 to 4800 birds per hectare (the range depends on whether paddock rotation is used). In the shed, chickens can be stocked at 12 birds per square metre (compared to 20 birds per square meter in factory farms), and artificial lighting is capped at 16 hours per day, with at least eight hours of continuous dark per night.

Humane Choice offer higher welfare conditions than RSPCA Approved and FREPA, and are often as good as the ACO standard

FREPA accredited free range chickens are only let outdoors when they're 'fully feathered'. There's no cap on the amount of chickens per metre in the outdoors, and in the shed they are stocked at up to 15 birds per square metre. There is also no specified limit on the amount of artificial light used.

RSPCA Approved is not free range. This standard allows meat chickens to be raised intensively in sheds with stocking densities of up to 17 birds per square metre, and up to 20 hours per day of artificial lighting, bright enough to encourage foraging and activity. These conditions don't compare well with the other standards we looked at.

The RSPCA standard also requires perches and hay bales to encourage chickens to be active and build muscle strength. While this is an improvement on the Model Code of Practice conditions, it stipulates only 2.7 metres of perching per 1000 birds – that's a big squeeze.



Free range pork labels

If you want your pork to have been born and raised outdoors (for their whole life) avoid 'bred free range' and 'outdoor bred' labels and instead look for products with one of these labels:

  • Humane Choice

  • Australian Certified organic

  • Australian Pork Certified Free Range

  • PROOF – Pasture Raised On Open Fields

Pigs raised under the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) standard are the most likely to have been raised free range with high welfare conditions. Unfortunately, certified organic pork is not listed as available from Coles or Woolworths on their online shopping sites, and isn't available at Aldi.

RSPCA Standards don't require pigs to have access to an outdoor or range area, but where they do have access, there are additional 'outdoor' standards. Yet the logo you'll see on packages in store is the same for either standard so it's not possible to work out if the animal was raised free range from this label.



The new Free-range Labelling for Eggs in Australia allows misleading free-range egg labels; egg cartons will have to display stocking densities, but there’s no actual requirement for the chickens to go outside. Some free range standards allow for the chickens to be confined in sheds until they're fully feathered, packed in at stocking densities of up to 15 birds per square metre under almost unrestricted artificial lighting. The definition of free-range is now able to include hens raised in stressful large stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare. For a higher-welfare stocking density, 1,500 hens per hectare is a more acceptable limit, as previously capped by the poultry code.

The RSPCA does not require that farms provide hens with access to an outdoor range area to receive the RSPCA paw of approval.

The only way to be 100% certain that your eggs have come from hens that haven’t been fed a GM diet is by purchasing certified organic eggs

According to a 2014 survey, 68% of free range egg consumers in Australia decide to purchase these products over cage eggs due to animal welfare reasons.

While cage eggs make up the highest market share in terms of volume of grocery eggs sold to consumers, free range eggs represent the highest value for the egg industry. As at 30 June 2016:

• Cage eggs accounted for 49.5% of grocery eggs sold, but were only valued at 37.3% of the market share.

• Free range eggs made up 40.7% of grocery eggs sold, but were valued at 50.6% of the market.

Consumer group CHOICE estimated that of the 696 million grocery eggs sold as free range in 2014, 213 million (over 30%) did not meet consumer expectations of what the label requires.

According to survey data, consumers expect that free range eggs come from hens who:

• Have substantial space to move around freely, both indoors and outdoors

• Have lived in systems with low outdoor stocking densities, consistent with the Poultry Code (1,500 birds per hectare).

• Have lived in systems with low indoor stocking densities, lower than that of barn systems.

• Can and actually do go outside on most ordinary days.

• Are not routinely debeaked or force moulted.

Unfortunately, a significant proportion of eggs labelled ‘free range’ do not meet these expectations. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’), has brought a number of cases against producers who have either described eggs as free range without meeting free range expectations, or where producers have incorrectly labelled cage eggs as free range.

The new free-range standards do not meet any of the above consumer expectations. Free-range can not be trusted as a label for higher welfare for the hens.



They come from hens kept in a cage-free system. Instead, hens are kept within a shed - which is better than a cage, but they do not have access to an outdoor range and still must endure all the other issues that come in the factory farming method. These include, mutilations with no pain relief, over-crowding, artificial lighting, no fresh air, unnatural diets that include antibiotics and medications.

Sustainable Table have put this together to help navigate different labels and what they mean.

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Grass-fed beef may still come from cows that have spent some time in a feedlot or eating a grain-based diet, but it must be for less than 60-100 days even though consumer and producer sentiment around this indicates that it is misleading and damaging to grass fed producers.

Organic beef can be sourced from the grass fed beef production chain, however the vast majority of grass fed producers are not certified organic. This is because they may still use chemicals for fertilizer, weed and insect control, and for animal health management.

Grain-fed means cows have been raised for a certain amount of time on a feed-lot. Grains are not a natural food for a cow to eat.

In 2006 a study was done, were researchers compared the fatty acid compositions of three kinds of feeding of cows. Each group contained 18 Australian cattle. The first group was fed grains 80 days before slaughter, the second group was fed “by-product feedstuff” for 200 days, and the third group was grass-finished and grass-fed.

  • Group #1: Short Term Grain Feeding (80 days)

  • Group #2: Long Term Feedlot Rations (150-200 days)

  • Group#3: Grass Feeding (Life time)

The results showed the grass-fed cows had more omega-3’s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Just 80 days of grain feeding was enough to destroy the omega-3 content of the beef. CLA content plummeted in the same amount of time. It is healthier for the cows, and this is reflected in the flesh, if you so choose to eat it.



Pasture raised means the animal has lived its life outside on pasture and not in sheds. This doesn’t mean having ‘access’ to pasture but actually eating, playing, grazing and often sleeping and birthing outside with access to adequate shelter to be used as required.

‘Pasture’ is what it means - extensive areas of grass and vegetation fit for grazing.

To be eligible to use the “certified pasture fed” label in Australia, cattle must have had access to graze in pasture for their entire lives and not be confined to feedlots for the purposes of intensive feeding. Organic beef is pasture raised, as is organic pork and chicken, but not always visa-versa.

Links to the welfare standards in food labelling are below:

* Australian Certified Organic Standard

* Humane Choice



* Australian Pork Limited Free Range

* RSPCA Approved

When choosing to eat meat, for high animal welfare standards in Australia such as explained above, there are producers and suppliers that provide as described above, and you can find directories of these below:

The Sustainable Table

Flavour Crusader

Feather and Bone