Cruel Tas abattoir workers gone: boss

Andrew Drummond

Abattoir workers filmed mistreating young calves are no longer employed by the Tasmanian meat processing plant, the company says.

Footage taken at the business at Cressy in the state's north allegedly shows cases of horrific animal cruelty, including clubbing calves with plastic pipes until they become motionless.

A copy of the vision was given to Biosecurity Tasmania on Friday and an investigation has begun, Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff told parliament on Thursday.

"(The footage) does show possible acts of animal cruelty, and that matter will be thoroughly investigated," he said.

Filmed in December last year, the contents of the video have been described by the RSPCA in a statement given to News Corp.

"The treatment of these calves by abattoir workers ... included calves being beaten until they collapsed, hit with poly pipes, thrown to the ground by the ears, tail or head alone, and pulled backward by their tails," the statement said.

Tasmanian Quality Meats abattoir boss Brian Oliver told ABC Radio the two workers shown in the footage have since left the company and he wants to make sure there isn't a repeat of the mistreatment.

"I have to say that yes, that has happened, but can I say that is footage that is taken out of 66 hours of hidden cameras of actual work time and we processed 5,224 calves through that period," he said.

Welfare group Animal Liberation previously produced the footage from the abattoir in December last year, which Mr Rockliff said sparked a warning for the abattoir.

"A complete review of this footage by animal welfare inspectors at the time assessed that no animal welfare offences had occurred, however the company was subsequently required to address some methods of practice," the minister said.

Mr Rockliff said parts of the footage were not able to be assessed because of the quality of the video, but the government was provided with clearer footage on Friday, and a new investigation was initiated.

The Australian Veterinary Association says if systems intended to protect animal welfare fail, there needs to be an urgent response.

"This includes close monitoring of animal welfare at abattoirs and regular training and auditing of slaughter floor staff," Australian Cattle Veterinarians president Alan Guilfoyle said

The RSPCA said the latest instance of cruelty allegations gives strength to their calls for the installation of CCTV at all abattoirs.