‘Floating feedlots’: animals spending weeks at sea on ships not fit for purpose

Animal welfare put at risk on old and ‘inferior’ converted car carriers and cargo ships that are not built to transport livestock


The live export trade carrying millions of sheep and cattle across the seas each year is plagued by “old” and “inferior” ships that are a threat to animal welfare, claims a leading shipping company.

Livestock carriers are a key part of the multibillion dollar live export industry, dominated by Australia, South America and Europe. In 2017, almost 2 billion animals were exported in a trade worth $21bn (£15bn), with a significant proportion travelling by sea.

But most of the ships are old car carriers or other former cargo ships, rather than purpose-built vessels that can meet higher standards of animal welfare, said Wellard, one of the world’s largest livestock exporters, based in Australia.

This week the Guardian’s Animals Farmed series is focusing on the global live animal export trade, which, despite welfare and disease concerns, has quadrupled over the last fifty years.

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