Australian live exports are under pressure again after footage emerged of cattle being brutally slaughtered during an Islamic festival in Indonesia.

Agriculture department officials are investigating how the Australian animals ended up being killed in a car park in northern Sumatra last month.

Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Mark Harvey-Sutton said his members were also trying to determine how the cattle left the supply chain.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said the treatment of the animals was unacceptable and immediate action was required.

"Situations like this are extremely rare when you put it in the context of 600,000 animals being exported to that market each year," he told ABC radio on Thursday.

"That doesn't excuse it, but I think we do need to put it in context."

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