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Opportunities to improve slaughter standards and profitability in Indonesia

Project start date: 01 January 2003
Project end date: 01 June 2005
Publication date: 01 June 2005
Project status: Completed
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A visit by Geoffrey Beere and Sharon Pettiford to Indonesia was conducted between 29 April and 11

May 2005 to address the following objectives:

1. To observe the MLA sponsored restraining boxes (Mark I and Mark II) in operation and advise on all associated infrastructure issues. This includes design of lairage, raceways and forcing pens.

2. To observe the behaviour of abattoir staff and advise if options for training are feasible to improve animal welfare. This includes both pre slaughter and during slaughter.

3. To identify a list of Critical Control Points for future assessment of those abattoirs processing Australian cattle. This may include the level of cattle vocalizing, slamming of gates, dragging and/or beating of animals and the length of time it takes for slaughtered animals to become unconscious.

4. To advise on options for preparing animal handling posters and flyers for abattoirs and livestock trucks.

Indonesia imports on average 400,000 beef cattle annually from Australia. The viability of this market is vital for the long-term sustainability of the live export industry in Australia. Australia's trade with Indonesia has strongly underpinned the overall growth in the live cattle trade. ​

Much of the beef consumed in Indonesia is purchased from the fresh market system, with cattle sold to local butchers who sell through the wet markets. This system accounts for approximately 90% of imported Australian cattle.​

The installation of slaughter restraining boxes in abattoirs throughout parts of Indonesia has resulted in improved animal welfare during ritual slaughter of Australian cattle. It is a priority of Meat and​ ​​Livestock Australia and Livecorp to continue to identify methods of improving the traditional preslaughter and slaughter handling of cattle in South East Asia.

Another issue that needs addressing is that beef from Australian cattle is currently being discounted in the Asian marketplace. This occurs primarily because of inappropriate pre-slaughter management and slaughter techniques. This decreases muscle glycogen and increases the cellular pH resulting in dark cutting beef, therefore reducing shelf life and overall product value. This meat can be discounted by as much as 30%.

There is enough evidence to suggest that if management is improved from the holding yard to the point of slaughter, Australian cattle will produce meat with a lower pH and more optimal meat colour. This product will not be discounted in the wet market and will have a longer shelf life. An extra three hours shelf life is significant in the Indonesian wet market. Processors of Australian cattle are more likely to respond to and implement introduced techniques that improve shelf life and meat colour because it will result in an increased financial return.

As well as addressing animal welfare concerns, the restraining boxes are also addressing the meat quality issues discussed above. However there are other handling, husbandry and infrastructure issues from discharge of the animals to the point of slaughter that need more work to further improve animal welfare. The design of lairage areas and of the whole abattoir area, from the livestock vehicle arriving at the abattoir to the slaughtering of animals, is of great importance in relation to animal welfare and meat quality.

This report recommends that animal welfare can be further improved in Indonesia by accelerating bleeding at slaughter, introducing a system of auditing individual abattoirs and yard designs and improving awareness amongst butchers and stockmen. It is important to highlight to the workers what they can change in their day to day practices that will have an impact on the quality of the meat they are producing. This will primarily be achieved through better handling and slaughter techniques.

A discussion is provided detailing the current issues and alternatives followed by recommendations for industry to consider. This report highlights and summarises some of the main issues and provides some practical comments upon existing practices and facilities at the abattoirs visited in Indonesia. Hopefully this document will stimulate discussion and actions that will continue improve slaughter procedures for both abattoir staff and livestock.

More information

Project manager: Sharon Dundon
Primary researcher: Amal Services Pty Ltd