DISGUSTED: Cattle agent Bill Hallas is upset and appalled by the recent farm protests by animal activists.
DISGUSTED: Cattle agent Bill Hallas is upset and appalled by the recent farm protests by animal activists. Meg Bolton

Vegan protests spark raw emotion in the farming industry

TWO nights ago, retired Lockyer Valley cattle auctioneer Bill Hallas woke from a nightmare where he was being invaded by truckloads of vegan protesters right before a cattle sale.

The 69-year-old hasn't worked as an auctioneer for almost three years, but the thought still sent a shiver down his spine.

Mr Hallas has worked in the cattle industry for more than 40 years, but has been in the industry his whole life.

He grew up on a dairy farm and can't comprehend the motivations of the animal activists who targeted Queensland farms and Melbourne's central business district earlier in the week.

Cattle agent Bill Hallas says farmers' right to make a living needs to be protected.
Cattle agent Bill Hallas says farmers' right to make a living needs to be protected. Meg Bolton

"It's all very hurtful and awful," Mr Hallas said.

"I love my animals, they get the very best treatment."

At present, Mr Hallas runs about 150 head of cattle between two properties in the Lockyer Valley.

He does everything he can to ensure the safety of his animals, he says.

"You won't find rubbish around this place. You won't find string on the fence, you won't find anything where it shouldn't be. This place is immaculate because I care, and I want to care," he said.

While animal activists see the beef industry as abuse and murder, Mr Hallas said if they saw what he did they might have a different opinion.

He reminisced a time where he spent more than two weeks attending to the needs of one bull.

The bull had three-day sickness, a mosquito-borne illness, which can cause cattle to lay on the ground for a few days.

Mr Hallas's infected bull spent 15 days on the ground and in that time he gave it food and repositioned the beast each day to prevent it from lying in its own urine.

As the bull got better the cattle farmer moved the food further and further away as an incentive for the animal to get up - a feat it conquered.

"I've had cows that won't get up and I've busted my guts to get them up, but once they throw in the towel and tell me they don't want to live I'll fix them," Mr Hallas said.

"You don't let it suffer, you assist it, you do it.

"We want them to live, we don't want them to die, but when they do go to the meat works they've got to die in the right way."

To Mr Hallas, producing cattle isn't cruel - it helps provide families with an evening meal, keeps the Australian beef industry going and the profession is his livelihood.

He referenced the video Get Back to Me, a video produced by Ashley Walmsley from Queensland Country Life, which explains the perspective of a farmer.

Mr Hallas said listening to the perspective brought a tear to his eye.

The cattle farmer regularly bought underfed calves and nursed them back to health. While still destined for the meat works, Mr Hallas said, he ensured they were healthy and happy in life.

But mixed in with sadness is anger. Mr Hallas said the three lambs taken from the farm in recent protests was not only theft, but the act broke multiple laws.

When transporting cattle legally a permit, transportation papers and specific equipment is required - seeing the protesters load the lambs into a mini van "boiled my blood".

Mr Hallas said no one in the livestock industry would get away with the act and laws should be tougher.

He said inexperienced people interfering in the livestock industry not only put the animals at more risk of biosecurity issues, but also put the protesters in danger of being hurt by the livestock.

He wants to see stronger fines for people trespassing and disrupting people just trying to make a living.



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