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Back to Research & Development

Livestock export


MLA, together with LiveCorp, jointly invest in the Livestock Export Program (LEP), which funds research and development (R&D) that aims to improve animal health, welfare and productivity throughout the livestock export supply chain.

Within the LEP, livestock export market activities support the growth, productivity improvements and sustainability of the livestock export industry through the delivery of risk mitigation strategies and extension and adoption of best practice livestock management.

Australian livestock exports engage in several R&D opportunities to ensure the health and welfare of all live animals exported overseas through improved husbandry techniques, advanced technology that enhances the on-board environment and mitigates heat load.

Core activities

Livestock export R&D provides the industry with the tools, technologies, knowledge and capability to improve its productivity, profitability and sustainability at an individual, business and industry level.

Initiatives within livestock export R&D include:

  • improving the health and welfare of livestock during transport
  • supporting data collection, scoping studies and adoption to improve heat load management during shipping
  • identifying economic and non-invasive animal welfare measures
  • trialling and developing alternative power loads to operate captive bolt devices
  • investigating bedding management and stocking densities on board livestock vessels
  • identifying on-board environmental monitoring technologies that support animal welfare indicators
  • enhancing the live export supply chain capability and risk management profile
  • improving market access for Australian livestock
  • supporting the Livestock Global Assurance Program (LGAP), which enhances and secures animal welfare and sustainability of the trade.


In 2018, MLA and LiveCorp reviewed the LEP R&D program to ensure the appropriate governing systems and processes were in place to support program delivery for the livestock export industry.

The LEP systems and processes are based on four main principles:

  1. Clarity: clear strategic objectives based on effective decision-making and evaluation processes
  2. Reach: better engagement with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the program is delivering to expectations
  3. Structure: a simple and efficient structure, with clear and consistent reporting and management
  4. Knowledge: regular review of the program to determine priorities and incorporate learnings from past projects.

In response to the 2018 review, the following changes have been implemented:

  • the development of an R&D Strategic Plan with industry, government and community engagement
  • the implementation of a communications and engagement strategy to ensure ongoing, sustainable communication and extension support
  • the refinement of templates, tools and processes for generating ideas and concepts and converting them to projects
  • the development of a system for post-project reviews, to capture lessons and identify potentially valuable areas for future R&D
  • the refinement of governance structures and roles of the Livestock Export Research and Development Advisory Committee, Management Committee and Consultative Committees.

Benefits to industry

  • R&D investments through collaboration between MLA and LiveCorp has contributed to improved animal health, welfare and productivity throughout the livestock export supply chain. These improvements have also helped to increase market access, growth and diversification of the Australian red meat industry.
  • Livestock export R&D has made Australia a world leader in welfare practices related to livestock exports and no other livestock exporting country has the same commitment to improving animal welfare throughout the livestock export supply chain.
  • As a result of ongoing R&D initiatives, mortality rates within the industry have declined substantially over time, which has helped maintain the livestock export industry’s social licence.

The Indonesia Australia Commercial Cattle Breeding Program

The Indonesia Australia Commercial Cattle Breeding Program (IACCB) ran for 5-years (February 2016 – February 2021) under the auspices of the Indonesian-Australian Partnership for Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector.

IACCB aimed to conclusively determine the commercial viability and establish commercially sustainable cattle breeding systems that facilitated investment, innovation and expansion of the beef cattle breeding industry in Indonesia.

The four cattle breeding models assessed included - (1) SISKA - Integrated oil palm and cattle production; (2) Open Grazing - where cattle graze in broad acre open grassland; (3) Cut-and-Carry - where smallholder farmers manage cattle in a cattle yard; and (4) Semi-breedlot/semi-SISKA - where cattle graze in an palm oil plantation for around 6 months prior to being placed in a breedlot at pre-calving.