When Australia was faced with distressing photos of dead lambs during the country's horror drought we were shocked.

And the vegan documentary Dominion created a year ago wants to shock you even further.

Not quite getting the reaction its creators wanted when it was released - probably because viewers can hardly bear watching it - vegan protesters have been trying to highlight the horrors of a different kind the film claims to expose.

A review on Medium last year described how the dramatic editing of the documentary brought the viewer to a "near-frantic level of wanting to make it stop".

"For nearly two hours, viewers endure the most disturbing footage of animals being treated in the most unimaginable ways," the review said.

"There are few scenes that aren't brutally gut-wrenching, save for the opening credits.

"The only respite, once the film is underway, is the momentary pause offered by the black screen segment breaks. They're the film's only gasps of oxygen in the otherwise suffocating horror of animal abuse."

Viewers are presented secret footage of the mistreatment of animal after animal - from turkeys to rabbits, foxes, ducks and camels - all focused on Australia and narrated by celebrities including Joaquin Phoenix.

The documentary shows graphic scenes of animals being gassed, slaughtered, beheaded, minced, crammed into tiny stalls and running for their lives when they realise their fate smelling the blood of those killed before them.

It details the treatment of animals used for food, fashion, entertainment and experiments.

Different uses of each animal are delved into - ducks being for food, feathers and hunting.

The culling of wild Australian camels is highlighted and how they are now being exploited for their milk.

Dominion shows graphic scenes of dead animals on farms across the country.
Dominion shows graphic scenes of dead animals on farms across the country.

Vegan protesters have been calling for attention for the film and they got it when they chained themselves together at locations around the country and blocked Melbourne's biggest intersection.

This week marks one year since the release of Dominion, created by Chris Delforce.

Mr Delforce is also the man behind Aussie Farms, which created a controversial "attack map" of farms across the country it accused of animal cruelty practices.

Mr Delforce went head to head with National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simpson during a heated debate on The Project when the map was released in January.

He said the footage showed "the reality of modern farming" with tens of thousands of animals crammed into sheds and 20 sheds on a single property.

"That reality is hidden," he said.

"People don't know what you can get away with when you're farming animals. Things like mutilation of piglets without anaesthetic, the grinding up of male chicks in the egg industry on their first day of life because they're useless to the industry.

"These are standard practices that are perfectly legal. Most people would be horrified if they knew about them."

The documentary starts each animal section with dramatic statistics.
The documentary starts each animal section with dramatic statistics.

The documentary delves into how goats are repeatedly impregnated to ensure a continuous supply of milk, much the same way as cows.

Phoenix tells viewers how goat farming is a niche industry, with only about 65 farms in Australia. Goat's milk is marketed as a more easily digestible alternative to cow's milk.

He says people worldwide drink more goat's milk than milk from any other animal, and Australia is the largest exporter of goat meat, the majority of it going to the US.

But only 10 per cent of that meat is said to come from goats bred and farmed for it, with the majority coming from culling wild breeds imported to Australia by European settlers.

In the sheep segment, the documentary explains how winter lambing involves impregnating sheep so they give birth in winter months, meaning lambs are weaned in spring when pastures are most fertile.

It says this results in 10 to 15 million newborn lambs, roughly one in four, dying within 48 hours of birth from exposure to the harsh cold.

It tells viewers for sheep farmers that's preferable to the high cost of feed during the warm months.

But farmers across the country have been struggling with the high cost of feed forced upon them through horror drought conditions, with many families struggling to keep their once thriving properties afloat.

Certainly, the lush, green pastures shown in Dominion have not been seen for months.

 

A scene from Dominion where grass is green.
A scene from Dominion where grass is green.

 

It’s a stark contrast to the drought horror we’ve seen where animals have died in extreme weather conditions. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
It’s a stark contrast to the drought horror we’ve seen where animals have died in extreme weather conditions. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Ms Simpson told The Project the picture painted in the documentary was not true of Australian agriculture.

"Here in Australia we are about family farms," she said.

Ms Simpson said more than 90 per cent of farms in Australia were family owned, with many families living on their properties.

"This is a group of people who are extreme in their views, it's stepping over the line," she said.

"It's an extreme philosophical belief about animals."

She said farmers believed in humane treatment of animals, with animal welfare placed at the highest level and numerous amounts of regulation and transparency.

"Australia has led the world in that regard, and we've led the world with other improvements as well in terms of sow stalls and piggeries," she said.

Continue the conversation @stephanie_bedo | stephanie.bedo@news.com.au

 

Lamb pens shown in the documentary.
Lamb pens shown in the documentary.

What to do if smoke from fires is making you unwell

What to do if smoke from fires is making you unwell

Information on staying healthy in midst of smoke

Southwest wakes to dusty conditions

Southwest wakes to dusty conditions

A dust haze is covering much of rural Queensland, extending from parts of the...