“A Bloody Business”

May 31st, 2011, in Featured, News, by

Reports from our southern neighbour of gross mistreatment of cattle at Indonesian abattoirs.

In a Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary on the Four Corners program titled “A Bloody Business” hosted by the loathsome Kerry O’Brien video footage is shown of gross cruelty and incompetence in dealing with the slaughter of exported Australian cattle at Indonesian abattoirs, where it is said

many thousands of these animals die slow and hideous deaths.

Despite the best efforts of professional Australian slaughter-men to train their benighted Indonesian counterparts on the best ways to deal with animals in the slaughterhouse the video shows that:

Animals smash their heads repeatedly on concrete as they struggle against ropes, take minutes to die in agony after repeated often clumsy cuts to the throat. In some cases there is abject and horrifying cruelty – kicking, hitting, eye-gouging and tail-breaking – as workers try to force the cattle to go into the slaughter boxes installed by the Australian industry, with Australian government support.

RSPCA chief scientist Bidda Jones, who analyzed the video slaughter of 50 cattle, said the slaughtermen took on average 11 slashes at the throat to kill the animals, and even as many as 33. She said:

They basically hack the heads off with blunt knives, causing a lot of distress and pain

The story has caused great controversy in Australia with calls to end all live cattle exports to Indonesia, however as yet at least there is little or no reaction from Indonesian officials.

Indonesian Abattoir

The graphic and disturbing video can be viewed over here – http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20110530/cattle/.

There appear to have been 11 abattoirs where filming took place, in Jakarta, Bogor, Bandar Lampung and Medan.

44 Comments on ““A Bloody Business””

  1. Arie Brand says:

    Yesterday the Australian ABC “Four Corners” program came up with a shocking documentary about the slaughter of live cattle exported from Australia to Indonesia. This slaughter is often done in an extremely cruel fashion in which it takes repeated strokes of the knive before the animal dies in agony. In addition the beasts are often beaten. The Minister of the Australian Department of Agriculture and Fisheries who obviously watched the same program has ordered an immediate inquiry.

    Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has ordered an inquiry into the claims of mistreatment of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia.

    Senator Ludwig said he was shocked by TV footage of mistreatment of these animals, shown on the ABC Four Corners program on Monday night.

    He said it was clear that industry reforms to animal welfare standards had not gone far enough or been fast enough and much more needed to be done.

    “I have ordered an immediate investigation into the footage by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and have asked them to provide me with all available options in response to the evidence,” he said in a statement.

    On the Four Corners program, film taken by animal welfare activists showed Australian cattle at various Indonesian abattoirs having their throats cut on average 10 times when it should take one stroke, dying prolonged deaths and being beaten and gouged.

    Animals Australia, the RSPCA, and the Australian Greens and independent MP Andrew Wilkie, are now demanding the government end live cattle exports to Indonesia.

    At the University of Amsterdam there was in my time there a professor who was also the head of the Dutch equivalent of the RSPCA. One of his favourite theses was that the level of civilisation of a country was shown by the way animals were treated there. Well, I can think of a few other criteria if it comes to that but, if we go by this one, Thailand shows up best among the three South East Asian countries that I know a bit from personal experience. In Thailand I used to live for a while opposite a Buddhist temple where I often saw people taking kittens to be cared for by the monks (who didn’t have much more than rice to feed them on). Buying birds at the market in order to set them free, thus gaining ‘merit’, is also a popular activity.

    Coming back to slaughter practices: in Holland, which has an electoral system based on proportional representation, the “Party for Animals” has now a seat in parliament. The parliamentarian concerned has recently proposed a bill for ending ritual slaughter and is likely to gain enough votes for it or has already done so. The Jewish and Moslem parts of the population have protested vociferously, arguing that this is against traditional Dutch religious freedom. It is indeed an interesting example of what Weber used to call “value collision”.

  2. Oigal says:

    Dang,..I was working on a post for this one..oh well..:-)

    Of course, no one in Indonesia should be surprised, animal cruelty is an art form (witness the torture of the “performing monkeys” on the streets every day. The notorious Surabaya zoo.

    Worst of all, is the religious occasion almost upon us, where millions of animals are transported, starved and then have their throats hacked by the inept, all while chanting glory to God. If he/she exists then she/he must wince at what occurs in his/her name.

    But hey good entertainment for the kiddies apparently..

  3. Arie Brand says:

    Well, I might have given too rosy a picture of the Thai attitude to animals. A nephew of mine, who is living there permanently, reacted as follows to my post:

    Although Thailand may have generally a better way of dealing with animals than say Indonesia, I often see very disturbing acts of cruelty to animals here: dogs chained up in the same spot day and night, live pigs in too small baskets left out in the sun, and busboys shooting bb guns at cats to keep them away from tables to name but a few. I also find the practice of releasing birds for merit ridiculous as it spurns a big industry of people catching birds for release, and in the catching of them many are hurt and killed.

    Although most temples will take in homeless dogs and cats, many of these animals don’t last long. They are brought there by people who are bored of their pets or the off-spring of their pets, as they very rarely spade their pets, or they just dump them in the woods or along the side of roads, which is how I got all of my five pets…picking up and caring for abandoned animals. The fifth one, an elderly Shi Tzu which I have named KhunYai, grandmother in Thai,
    was probably used as a breed dog so they could sell Shi Tzu puppies for 10,000 baht ($300) a pup, and then when she was old and sick abandoned on the side of a road.

    PS. after some medical care, daily vitamins, and lots of love, Khun Yai is now healthy and full of energy.

  4. Tom says:

    I have seen this TV show in the ABC Four Corner, I don’t believe that it is happening in Indonesia.
    Come on it is Indonesia, we don’t do this type of cruelty in Indonesia because it is not Halal and may I repeat, it is not Halal. We in Indonesia are 95% Muslim we tread our animals much better then our human comrade, look during the time in the mid 60th when we wipe PKI of Indonesia, well that is another story. We in Indonesia before we kill an animal we have to pray. We can just say Bismilah well that is the minimum, then we can cut the head of the animal or a comrade human PKI like in the mid 60th and that way of killing become Hallal, do you know what I mean Hallal. We Indonesian cannot trust our Christian neighbour of Australian to do the killing for us, because they might not do it the Hallal way or the Muslim way, do you know what I mean. They say we don’t treat the cattle humanly??? Rubiiiish we eat them don’t we.

  5. aing says:

    Hey Tom, 95% Indonesian are muslim doesn’t mean that 95% animals are slaughtered in Halal way. In fact, most of abattoir in Indonesia are way from halal manner. Ask your friend who works on abattoir, such case will not be surprised for them.

  6. Stevo says:

    I am not known for having a weak stomach, but I could not watch much of that video.

    I think the workers need some assistance in how to correctly handle the process. I doubt they are being deliberately cruel, though they clearly show no apparent regard for the animals distress.

    It’s a disgusting display that will diminish the image of Indonesia in the eyes of the world.

  7. Jules says:

    Have just watched Four Corners.
    What type of barbaric backward sub human savages are you Indonesians. Your incredible cruelty to helpless animals sums up the very nature of islam.

  8. Arie Brand says:

    I gave the website address of that program earlier today but somehow it disappeared. So here it is again. The video is in the top left corner:


  9. Arie Brand says:


    I am not sure that in the mainly christian Philippines slaughtering practices are any more humane. I have never been to an abattoir there but practices in the backyard slaughter of pigs, that can be easily witnessed when one is living there, make one fear the worst.

    There is a generally callous attitude to animals there as well.

  10. ET says:

    The slaughtering of the cattle shown in in the video somehow reminded me of the slaughtering of the Ahmadiyah people in Cikeusik a few months ago.
    A display of subhuman character.

  11. madrotter says:

    last time i went to the bandung zoo this is what i saw, tigers and lions in cages that are about 4 by 3 meters and people in the front throwing empty cans at their heads and shouting at them. a crocodile was sunbathing with his mouth wide open, a father with his family came and took a big stick and started hitting the crocodile incredibly hard with the point downwards, just to see if the crocodile would close it’s mouth and that went on for quiet a while…. all kinds of apes and monkeys in incredibly cramped cages…. not to mention the incredible amounts of garbage lying around with all the garbage cans empty…. haven’t been back to the place since…

    am i surprised about this documentary? hate to say it but not really. shocked, yeah sure, i don’t even have the stomach to watch it myself….

  12. camion says:

    Tom…you are a friggin idiot. Asians in general treat animals very poorly,mostly for profit or for demented entertainment or other voids in their miserable lives.The barbaric treatment displayed on the ABC programme is done in the name of phoney religious & cultural beliefs & maximum profit as is much of the neanderthal thinking which demands stone age practises to continue into the twenty first century. If the Indonesian society has any conscience at all,they will demand that conditions improve for ALL animals. Asian countries might then get more respect than they currently do at the moment.Speak up dear Indonesians & take a real look around you at whats really happening. It is sub human to profit or entertain oneself in the way many types of animals needlessly suffer barbaricly. I will never forget in the 1970’s seeing a stuffed Sumatran tiger on display for sale in a Jakarta Dept Store for a lousey $300.

  13. berlian biru says:

    This isn’t a religious matter, it’s cultural. Outside of western, indeed let’s be honest Anglo-Saxon, cultures animal welfare simply isn’t a big concern, people welfare isn’t a particularly high priority either if it comes to that.

    What’s so stupid about the abbatoir situation is that it’s actually easier, more efficient and safer to kill the beasts humanely and properly with a sharp blade than all that faffing around at huge risk of injury to the animal and the slaughterman.

    Then again just watch Indonesians working on a building site or any other semi-skilled workplace and you quickly realise that concepts like health and safety, efficiency and proper practice aren’t considered particularly relevant to people’s jobs.

  14. meka says:

    I tried to download the video but still fail. I saw myself the way slaughter cut the cattle in an abattoir in Bandung when I was a college student. I was only 15 m away. The cattle were lined up. A man brought a cow into, tie the head rope to floor. Other man tie 2 of cow feet and then they fell it down to floor. They positioned the cow to face to Kiblah. The slaughter then cut the cow throat in only 2-3 seconds. They waited 1-2 minutes and then beheaded the cow. It’s pretty quick and I believed the knives were really sharp.

    I am a little bit doubt about the report. Journalist tends to dramatize the story/report to get people attention and to rise his program rating. 11 or even 33 slashes ? With blunt knives. I think it stupid slaughter or maybe a lie.

  15. Arie Brand says:


    The website address can be found a few posts back. No other poster seems to have had your trouble with the video. Perhaps you should try again, look at it and then come up with a judgement.

    As for the report being exaggerated: none of the Australians who are directly interested in this trade (such as the CEO of the corporation that owns the enormous cattle stations in the North that exports these animals or the president of the cattlemen’s association) thought that it was.

    It is difficult to make out to what extent these inhumane practices are due to sheer incompetence or have to do with ritual slaughter. There was also an element of deliberate cruelty, for instance that guy who was hitting that animal lying on the ground with a heavy rope. Somebody else was kicking an animal.

    BB, I don’t think that concern with animal welfare is limited to Anglo Saxon countries though it is true that you can’t find it to the same extent throughout “the West”. Southern European countries have, justly or unjustly, not too spotless a reputation on this point either.

    In Anglo Saxon countries too this concern is of relatively recent date: the cruel games that were played with cats (inter alia hanging them on a string above a slow fire and letting them ‘dance’), dogfights, bear baiting etc., are in England not all that far back. Organised dogfights still seem to occur there today.

  16. David says:

    Speaking of cats this video has had almost 17 million views in under a week on youtube….


  17. ET says:

    It’s quite clear that animals have almost human-like emotions and reactions.
    I found the most disturbing scene in the Indonesian slaughterhouse was the bull overcome by panic and trembling for fear when he stood in line waiting for his turn to get slaughtered while he was forced to watch his mates being cut to pieces.
    Sometimes one is ashamed to belong to the human race.

  18. Clyde says:

    Jules”………. A bit general… Did we see all the up to date abitoirs covered in this interview….hmmm and why not… The answer is Education first just as we here in Austalia had to be educated about animal cruelty.
    I am not sure how old you are but I do know that when you grew up the same animal cruelty was happening in Australia and still is, I have seen it during my life and I am 40 years old. Absolutely barbaric

  19. Oigal says:

    If anything it’s understated, a quick look around any town and any market with open eyes will soon reveal the levels of cruelty that abound.

    Not to mention, ever tried to get a piece of local steak that was not so tough due to death stress it is virtually the same as trying to eat shoe leather. Sad part is the idiot owners don’t even consider the loss of dollar value by employing the inept, cruel freaks turning A grade beef into trash barely fit for dogs.

    There is no doubt the live animals trade to Indonesia and the middle east should be banned.

  20. timdog says:

    Not to mention, ever tried to get a piece of local steak that was not so tough due to death stress it is virtually the same as trying to eat shoe leather.

    Actually, the reason meat in Indonesia (and similar places) is so tough and chewy is not the stress the animal is subjected to, but the fact that the meat isn’t hung properly; in short, it’s too fresh (believe it or not).

    A good steak in Australia or Europe has been dead for up to a month by the time it hits your plate. This goes against all our instincts, but for red meat, fresh meat is not good meat. A carcass needs to hang, skinned and cleaned but unbutchered in cool temperatures (but a little above the chill of a domestic fridge) for at least a fortnight before it gets chopped up and slapped on the grill.
    In Indonesia (and most of Asia and the Mid-East) they kill and butcher imeditately; the meat might be on the market the same day it died.

    Interestingly, the infantilisation of consumers by supermarkets in the UK means that a similar problem is developing there too. “Consumer research” apparently has shown that shoppers like the look of vivid scarlet meat; they think it looks “fresh”. Properly hung beef, however, has a deep, almost maroon colour, but these days you’ll struggle to find anything like that in Tesco.
    Some of the steaks they sell now are so bright red (and therefore so under-hung) that, just like Indonesian steaks they curl up like the sole of an old shoe the moment they hit the pan (cell structure begins to break down during the hanging process, making the meat more pliable tender)…

    Um… Food Tech 101 over…
    (No disagreement about the terrible standards in slaughterhouses; though I would point out things are still surprisingly grim in quite a lot of European ones too)…

  21. Oigal says:

    Bloody science proves me wrong every time, I feel like a creationist.

    Never the less, I will stick with point that the live animal trade is brutal and cruel from the time the creatures hit the ships.

  22. nobody says:

    If Australia want to stop making easy money out of Indonesian meat market, so be it.
    It will just mean more money (and jobs) for local indonesian cattle industry.

  23. pjbali says:

    Actually according to this site stress and ageing are both considered major influences on the toughness of beef. There is apparently a measurable test called a “Warner-Bratzler shear force test” that measures the force required to cut a sample (sounds likes someones design project).

    So oigal and timdog you were both correct.

  24. Oigal says:

    Nobody, Not until the government and private industry start making the investment and education revolution required for long term sustainability which based on history and current practices is not going to happen any time soon.

  25. berlian biru says:

    So oigal and timdog you were both correct.

    Indeed, a stressed animal will produce tough meat but timdog is entirely correct that freshness is the main problem with Indonesian beef. Good beef should be “hung” for at least three weeks to allow the decomposition process to tenderise the meat. Of course the by-product of this process is the loss of volume, a hunk of freshly killed flesh shrivels up quite a bit in three weeks.

    The problem is that Indonesians don’t have the concept of “joints” that we have, all bits of meat from brisket to fillet simply get chopped up together and cooked in a great pot. I watched as my friend butchered a large goat and three hours later he produced a huge delicious curry made up of fresh mutton chopped up on the bone. I couldn’t help but wish he’d let me have at least one of the legs to make next Sunday’s roast, he would hardly have missed it after all.

    Me and my missus have an ongoing struggle about my Friday night sirloin, I usually have to ask the butcher to bring out the full sirloin from the fridge in order for him to slice me a thickness that a good steak should be and not the tissue paper thin things wrapped up in the cellophane on display. Then when we get home I have to physically restrain my wife from putting it into the freezer, she is convinced that a piece of meat left for a few nights in the fridge (my pathetic attempt at hanging the beef) will be rotten.

    What amazes me most about this is that Indonesians have no problem about leaving cooked meat in a cabinet (ambient temperature 36 deg C.) all day but fear that raw meat kept in a fridge will somehow go off.

  26. Oigal says:

    Indeed BB, I think I lowered my flag in the face of science fairly fast on that one. Having said that, the other local habit I detest is the over powering urge to soak and wash the meat before cooking to get all the blood out….aaagh!

  27. Lairedion says:

    It doesn’t surprise me at all.

    A Muslim society is animal-unfriendly by default. A society rooted in semitic culture has no love for animals and nature. You can read it in their scripts. Animals are always depicted in a negative way.

    This is also the case in Western nations with their large factory farming industry where many of such businesses are run by conservative Christians.

  28. Stevo says:

    Lairedion, If religion was the cause of animal cruelty, then we would expect animals to be treated far better than they are in communist China.

    I agree that religious beliefs may provide some justification, in the perpetrators mind, but are not the primary cause. (Unlike their mistreatment of their fellow man.)

  29. Oigal says:

    INDONESIA is threatening to refer Australia’s ban on live cattle exports to the World Trade Organisation, arguing it may be discriminatory.
    The threat of a diplomatic rift over the issue came as cattle groups and the Coalition warned the ban on live exports to Indonesia will cripple the Australian industry, and amid calls for farmers to be compensated for loss of income.

    Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig’s announcement of a ban of up to six months headed off mounting criticism from the Labor left, crossbench MPs and animals rights groups following ABC TV’s screening of footage showing mistreatment of animals in Indonesian abattoirs.

    Indonesia’s Deputy Agriculture Minister, Bayu Krisnamurthi, questioned whether the ban was discriminatory, saying other nations Australia exported to also had issues in relation to animal welfar

    “We hope this is not mainly a special policy for Indonesia,” he told reporters.
    “If applied only to Indonesia, this is discriminative and we will submit (a complaint) to the WTO.
    “I know that there are several other countries importing from Australia facing the same (animal welfare) situation.

    Or just maybe a professional Agricultural Minister could suggest something really mature and address the problem by providing some basic training and training to those who wish to work in the industry. However, I guess its easier to play the victim of some vast conspiracy and play the pathetic face saving game yet again. I hope remembers to submit the tape of what occurs under his watch at the same time he submits his complaint to the WTO or would that be too much like taking responsibility for the job for which he appears to be grossly over paid and under qualified.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Cows have more rights than people in the view of Australians. The losers are the Indonesian people, while the Australian farmers are being subsidized. Australians are on a moral crusade to impose their more superior (i.e. white) standards on a backward non-Christian nation.

    “A week before Four Corners aired its horrific footage of the fate of Australian cattle in Indonesia, Dateline on SBS featured equally graphic images – canings, detention and brutal treatment of asylum seekers at a Malaysian detention centre.

    If the response to both is any indication, there was one clear winner in the battle for sympathy: the cattle by a landslide.

    Australians seemed more willing to empathise with cattle exported for slaughter than they were with men, women and children who would be sent to Kuala Lumpur as part of the so-called “Malaysian solution”.

    (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/more-concern-for-cows-than-people/story-e6frezz0-1226072570953 and http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/opinion/post/-/blog/talkingpoint/post/41/comment/1/)

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