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Kimberley pastoralist allegedly allowed hundreds of cattle to die

Brendan Foster -

Yeeda Pastoral Company, which owns and operates the Kimberley Meat Co processing plant between Broome and Derby, has been accused of killing hundreds of cattle through neglect, and of violating environmental regulations by disposing of tonnes of abattoir waste, according to an ABC report.

Yeeda also controls livestock properties, including Yeeda Station.

Multiple sources have told the ABC that 400 scrub bulls died in early 2022, due to alleged neglect by Yeeda Pastoral which runs the only abattoir in the north of the state.

The ABC also claims it has footage of Yeeda allegedly dumping cattle bones within five kilometres of the Great Northern Highway, which breaches environmental regulations.

It's understood that only a small percentage of the 1,000 bulls were sent off to be slaughtered while the rest of the animals were moved to yards on Yeeda Station.

The process of yarding hundreds of bulls for days or even weeks can cause undue stress for the animals and in some cases it can be fatal.

One industry source, who didn't want to be named, told the ABC Yeeda management was aware that holding the bulls in the pens was impacting the animals' health.

"They were told that it was unacceptable [to hold the bulls for so long] and something needed to be done about it, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears," they said.

One person who witnessed the bulls dying told the ABC anonymously it was "demoralising".

"I never thought that something like that could really happen inside this industry," they said.

"It was getting to the point where people were starting to question whether they wanted to continue working [for Yeeda]."

Veteran veterinarian Dave Morrell who has worked with scrub bulls for more than four decades told the ABC you had to get the animals out of the yards as quickly as possible.

"They're bulls, they're full of testosterone and they start fighting each other, they're horning each other, and they end up with wounds that go gangrenous," Mr Morrell said.

"Jamming them up like that in a stressful situation in a yard, the continuous stress leads to secondary diseases like pneumonia and they get an excess of lactic acid that leads to muscle weakness where they can't get up."

Yeeda Pastoral Company told the ABC in a statement the company holds animal welfare at the core of its values.

"In late 2022, an oversupply of cattle was recognised and immediate measures were put in place to address matters," a Yeeda spokesperson said.

"Over the past 12 months, under new management, the company has made significant changes to its operations and has been working closely with industry and industry participants to ensure best practice and compliance with the new operating structure."

A Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development spokesperson said they had not received any reports of cattle deaths in Yeeda Pastoral Company holding yards.

In a statement to the ABC, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) said it was investigating whether Yeeda had breached any regulations in regards to alleged dumping of cattle bones.

The allegations of animal cruelty against Yeeda comes on the back of an ABC story last month, which revealed the company owed more than $5million to businesses.

More to come.

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