Australia’s chief veterinary officer Mark Schipp was asked by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to conduct a review of Mark IV boxes, after concerns were raised during investigations into animal welfare abuse at abattoirs in Indonesia last year. The findings were published by DAFF today (24 July).
Schipp’s report concluded that Mark IV boxes can provide a humane tool for slaughter “when they are maintained and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions”. However, it added that if boxes were not operated in line with the manufacturer’s instructions, or had been modified, they could lead to poor animal welfare outcomes.
The report made a number of recommendations, including review of operating procedures, assessments of the boxes currently in use in supply chains, and checks that operators are sufficiently trained and following guidlelines.
DAFF said it had accepted all of the recommendations “in principle” and had arrangements in place to address the issues. In particular, it stressed that it had given exporters 30 days to assess all of the Mark IV boxes in their supply chains against the recommendations in the review “to verify they are being used appropriately and have all necessary design features, and if required, rectify any deficiencies”.
The department also said it would act to promote pre-slaughter stunning in live export markets, which Schipp said would minimise welfare risks.