The owners of the farm had gone away to Melbourne for a few days so myself, Ellie and the two other backpackers (Jess and Luke) were tending to the farm.
There wasn’t much to do so life was pretty chilled.
On our lunch break I picked Ellie’s brains about the livestock farms around Australia.
I have heard many horror stories about them, courtesy of the very strange and paranoid owner of the kangaroo sanctuary we stayed at in Agnes Water. I had heard that the animals were pumped with hormones and that their living conditions were horrendous due to the increasing demand.
Ellie has been to agricultural college and has spent her life on farms, so she was the best person to ask about all this.
Free Range/Barn Raised
Animals here either roam freely on the farm or they live in barns. She told me that the weather was so unpredictable here, barns was the most effective way to look after your livestock; especially chickens.
In summer, it can get over 40 degrees centigrade and the animals just perish. Queensland also suffers from severe droughts and some farmers have gone around shooting their animals and then themselves because there is no way to hydrate the livestock. The suffering of the animals and the only source of income whittling away can be too much for some. But none of us know this because when we go to our local Woolies or Tesco, there will always be meat on the shelves.
A way to combat this is to have massive barns (we’re talking the size of football fields) where the animals can still roam freely but they cannot be impacted by the weather. They may not be in the fresh air but they still live a happy life. So next time buying chicken, look for barn raised and think of the problem solving involved.
I brought up the increasing demand for meat in Australia as the population is ever growing, and with that comes battery farms. This is so the demands can constantly be met but the animals live a terrible life locked up and abused. Ellie put my mind at ease and said that the RSPCA over here make spot checks at any time, on any farm and if you’re not up to their standard you’ll be fined or even have your farm bulldozed. For example, a friend of hers was fined $14k because the level of sawdust was not high enough.
Obviously there will still be those horrendous farms out there abusing animals but Australia is ruthless with its regulations, so hopefully one day they’ll get caught.
I had to bring this up as it was inevitable because, at the end of the day, we farm to put food on the table.
Ellie told me the whole process; the animals are sent in a lorry to the slaughter house. The animals do get stressed at this point because they’ve never been on a mode of transport before. They are then let out and spend a few days, if not weeks on site so they get comfortable with their surroundings. I personally loved this, as they’re not going straight in to be killed. Then when the time comes, a bolt is put quickly through their forehead and it’s over. This part is done by hand to ensure its quick and the animal doesn’t suffer.
I asked why the animals don’t go straight in to slaughter and whether or not they are abused in the process. Ellie looked me in the eye and said in her strong Aussie accent ‘darlin’ here in Australia we want the meat to taste as best as it can, if the animals are stressed or hurt then the quality is impacted. We are proud of our produce. We’re not like those bloody Americans who just pump out huge quantities of meat to make as much money as possible.’
The subject of slaughtering is controversial and it’s a very horrible thought. However, people will always eat meat and we’re not going back to the hunting days. I’m just glad Aussies care.
Now I know that this is one opinion and I should seek out other sources to get a more reliable outlook, which I will.
I’m just learning so much about farming right now and can’t believe I took it all for granted when I did my food shops.
I think the rest of the world needs to look at Australia’s strict, yet fair, rules on the treatment of their livestock.