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Live exports update

22 September 2023

Key points:

  • Live cattle exports rose 22% year-on-year (YoY) to 54,650 head in August.
  • Exports to Vietnam rose 224% YoY to 13,947 head, retaining its position as the second-largest market.
  • Exports so far this year are above 2022 levels but below historical averages.

Despite considerable challenges for live cattle export in August, numbers exported rose relative to year-ago levels in August, rising by 22% from year-ago levels to 54,650 head. This increase is consistent with increases seen so far in 2023, as numbers increase from the low 2022 levels.

Source: DAFF


Four export quarantine yards were temporarily suspended by the Indonesian government in July, and the suspensions were only removed earlier this month, meaning export numbers were affected by access issues for all of August. Despite this, 24,470 cattle were exported to Indonesia over the month, based on the Department of Agriculture figures.

The quarantine yard suspensions clearly impacted export numbers – exports eased 32% from July, while the pattern for the past few years would be for exports to hold steady or increase between July and August. However, exports still rose 13% compared to August last year, consistent with the steady growth we have seen so far in 2023.


Exports to Vietnam in August rose by 224% YoY to 13,947 head, the second-highest export total to the market this year. Cattle exports to Vietnam have been well above 2022 levels this year, and since April, Vietnam has consistently been the second-largest market for Australian live cattle.

A shift in trading patterns has underpinned the increase in breeder cattle exports, representing 27% of total exports to Vietnam this year, the largest portion of total exports on record. This has seen a corresponding decrease in feeder cattle exports, which represent 9% of total volume this year, compared to 27% in 2022, while slaughter cattle continued to make up the majority of cattle exports, at 64% of the total exports.

Looking forward

So far in 2023, live cattle exports have been strong compared to 2022 but still below historic averages. In 2022, the number of cattle available for export was limited, as the herd rebuild was in full swing and retention on farm was very high.

This is shifting as the herd rebuild matures and the number of available cattle rises. Growth in live export numbers shows that demand for our cattle is solid and that subject to continued market access, exports can rebound as numbers increase.