Breaking Investigation Reveals Cows Starved, Beaten, and Shot at Australian Farms

A new undercover investigation into four outback Australian cattle stations reveals calves left to die of starvation, animals cruelly beaten, and cows repeatedly shot. After a lifetime of abuse, the animals are shipped as “live export to Asia and Israel or slaughtered and sold in Australian supermarkets or sent as boxed meat to the United States, Japan, and other countries.
Investigators with Sentient, an Israel-based nonprofit, worked as backpackers—volunteers who help out in exchange for food and accommodation—to expose what life is like for animals at these huge Australian stations. Ronen Bar, Sentient’s founder, said in a statement:
Backpackers from all over the world are working in these Australian cattle stations along with local Australians. I saw with my own eyes how this experience has changed them for the worse. They turned off their compassion to sentient animals, gradually accepting animal cruelty as part of life. It was very difficult for me to work there, seeing death every day, witnessing how the system works—saving every dollar on the back of dying animals. It is a truly sick industry.
Pain relief is not required at Australian farms, and footage reveals cows calling out in agony as they are dehorned. A worker explains that pain relief is “too expensive and “too much hassle. He sums up cattle farming as “a numbers game.
Sick and injured cattle were left to suffer and die without any veterinary care. Workers removed their lifeless bodies with heavy machinery. The babies of cows who died were considered valueless and left to slowly starve to death. A cattle station worker said to an investigator:
With these animals there is no emotional attachment, so in order to get a vet out, the cost of the vet has to be less than what the animal is worth. But it costs a lot more than what the animal is worth.
In the footage, workers kick and punch cows in the face, jump on their backs, hit them with a stick, and more. Even the person responsible for animal welfare in one of the stations kicked a calf in the face and punched him multiple times. A worker said:
If you feel bad for them, you are not going to be in that industry. … You should not feel bad for them. If you have a thought about that, you can’t be in the industry. You can’t feel bad for them—you just can’t. That’s just the way it is, the way it happens. Someone is going to do it in your place if you’re not there.
The investigation also documented workers attempting to shoot cows with cheap bullets, which often failed to kill the animals the first time. One cow was shot five times before dying more than an hour later after the worker switched to a more powerful gun. Another cow was shot three times before finally dying.
Although Australia is the world’s largest exporter of live animals for slaughter, the industry also thrives in Brazil. Mercy For Animals recently released undercover footage showing the true horrors of the Brazilian live export industry. After an exhausting, stressful journey on an overcrowded ship, injured and sick animals are dragged and craned by their legs. In one clip, a steer swings high in the air by a single leg, suffering unimaginable pain and fear.
Live export causes tremendous suffering, and it needs to end now. You can help by going to and joining Mercy For Animals in urging the Brazilian government to ban live animal export by passing federal bill 357/2018.
Of course, the best thing we can do for cows and other animals is to choose more plant-based foods. Order a FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today, and check out our Pinterest page for thousands of recipe ideas.