Sheep and cattle will face 8,000 mile journeys, after live exports from Australia to Iran resume

Animal welfare campaigners have lashed out at the ending of a ban on live animal exports from Australia to Iran.

The 40 year-old boycott is set to end after Iran agreed to animal health certification protocols, which will allow Australian exporters to ship sheep, cattle and goats.

The distance between Tehran and Sydney is just over 8,000 miles, sparking fear over the welfare of the animals while in transit.

Dr Julia Wrathall, head of farm animal science at the RSPCA tells IBTimes UK: "The RSPCA has been extremely concerned for some time about the live trade in farm animals from Australia to other countries. We understand that, in many cases, the huge number of animals per consignment and the long duration of the journeys give rise to considerable potential for serious animal health and welfare problems."

Australia's minister for agriculture Barnaby Joyce is keen to resume trade as soon as possible. "The next step will happen very quickly," she said, "because Iranian importers want to get their hands on Australian stock."

UN trade sanctions allow for the export of food to Iran, including livestock. Australia's government hopes that the trade will be worth $20m (€14.7m, £11.9m) to its agricultural sector.

Wrathall adds: "A large volume of scientific information exists highlighting the suffering that can and often does occur on long journeys, particularly when conditions are not ideal.

"Practical experience and the results of scientific research on the impact of long-distance transport on livestock welfare indicate that the longer the journey, the higher the risks to the wellbeing of the animals, even when planning and the conditions at the start of the journey are satisfactory."