Last week a video was released alleging cruelty in the Australian beef industry. I suggest you don't watch the video because it just gives credence to the illegal and dishonest acts of the film producers.
I do want to comment, however, because I am horrified at our industry response that they are "horrified by the video".
If I break the video down screen by screen what do I see? If I remove the death music, the overlay of bangs, crashes and bellows that are added, applied and amplified to a staged video, what do I see?
I saw a blanked out person making some claims about the industry. Reminder! The video is produced by a person who falsely claimed to be a vet, (that is a crime and a genuine risk to animal welfare), yet we verbatim believe the verbal claims made on the video?
In scene one, we see a cow be euthanized. Nothing inappropriate in the shot at all, it could be argued just good animal welfare.
In scene two we see potentially the most distressing scene of the video, we see an individual get his hand jammed and lash out at and swear at a cow. This is where I'm going to get contentious. Have I ever punched or sworn at a cow, yes, I have. This is where being honest and having integrity matters. Don't tell consumers what they "want to hear", tell consumers the truth. Tell them about the time when it was 42 degrees and about the cow who had nicely wedged her head between two trees, who now wants to kill you for the privilege of trying to get her the hell out of there. Tell them the desperation that you felt, to try to fix it, tell them how just as you reached the end of your physical limits she gives you that extra jab, tell them how you swore black and blue, tell them how you punched her, it damn well hurt your hand, tell them you told her in no uncertain terms that she was stupid for getting there and that she damn well better try to help you get her out. Tell them that you punched the stupid tree too and it hurt your hand even more. Tell them that each and every day cattle bunt each other with about 50 times the force of that punch just to ask politely each other to move over. Does it make you proud? No. Should we all strive to never reach that tipping point? Yes. Are we all perfect or will we ever be? Hell no.
So let's go back to the film. Scene three - a yard of healthy cattle.
Scene four - a boat.
Scene five, a healthy (and to my eyes) dry cow, sniffing an aborted calf, newsflash, just like humans, cows can naturally abort for a range of reasons, they just don't do it in a sanitary hospital bed, (it's not pretty there either).
Scene six shows a stockman attempting to assist a cow.
Scene seven - an inquisitive calf sniffing a dead cow. The calf once again does not look like it belongs to the dead cow, cows die, as do humans. Ever craned your neck at a car crash? That's what this calf is doing. Death is not pretty either, ever.
Scene eight - a stockman attempting to turn an animal back around that has turned itself around in a race, happens every day!
Scene nine - two weaners being dehorned, neither image shows whether or not pain relief has been applied. (once again the only evidence we are relying on is an assertion by an anonymous person in a video produced by someone who lied to the extent that they posed to be a vet) what would be the reaction if the video was produced in an operating theatre by a person who illegally posed to be a doctor?
Scene 10, a mature animal being tipped (not dehorned). No evidence whether or not the animal received pain relief.
Lastly, a death pit and images of dead animals being removed from a yard, the owner has verified that the number of deaths was due to a devastating disease outbreak and that treatment and destruction was overseen by a vet (a legitimate one).
Now I want you to think about where this was filmed. This is filmed in the Kimberleys. This is a tough and wild piece of land. It routinely gets to the mid forties. It is country where people endure significant hardship every single day. Go there, put yourself in their shoes and think about just how hard it is up there. Head past the Paspaley shop and get some grasp of just how remote, how isolated, how hard these people do it.
The RSPCA responded by saying that industry needed to race to breed polled cattle, ever been to the Kimberleys, ever wonder what you are going to do with thousands upon thousands of wild cattle?
Ever wonder about the adaptation that you would loose introducing an entire new gene pool that is so confined. Don't stand back and judge them based on a doctored video that took two years to fudge up. The chairman of our cattle council declared he was "betrayed" and condemned those producers. He condemned producers based on a video that amounts to a war crime. That might seem a little over the top but make no mistake this is a war, a war being waged to shut down our industry, and the producers of this film engaged in illegal acts, crimes. They posed as a vet.
Humans aren't perfect, neither are cows. We rely on each other and sometimes we let each other down. What really matters is integrity and the truth. Perception is nothing more than deception.
- Josie Angus a beef producer from central Queensland.
* This opinion piece was posted by Josie Angus to her personal Facebook page. The article has been edited (reduced) and published with the approval of the author.
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