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National livestock export industry sheep, cattle and goat transport performance report 2020

Did you know that in 2020, the number of sheep exported by sea was the lowest number since recording began in 1985?

Project start date: 01 March 2020
Project end date: 30 June 2020
Publication date: 01 March 2021
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Grain-fed Cattle, Grass-fed Cattle, Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (0.9 MB)

Summary

The care and welfare of cattle, sheep and goats being exported from Australia is an extremely important focus of the livestock export industry. Each year, it provides a detailed breakdown of all livestock that were exported, which includes details of how many animals were safely delivered and how many died along the way (but does not specify the cause of death).

This project summarised the performance of the Australian livestock export industry during 2020 and provides the only comprehensive breakdown by species, ships, load ports and major destinations over the calendar year.

The format has been slightly modified from previous reports but continues to provide consistent, comparable data that can be matched against previous years to understand industry’s performance.

In 2020, the number of sheep exported by sea continued to decline, down 27% compared to 2019. This is the lowest number since recording began in 1985. Live cattle exports by sea decreased by 19%.

Goat exports by air fell 48% compared to 2019. Live sheep and live cattle exports by air also declined. This is likely due to a combination of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air freight movements, and high livestock prices.

Objectives

This project provided data regarding cattle, sheep and goats exported live from Australia during 2020 by sea and air, including time of year, age and sex of the animals, and the number that died during export.

Key findings

In 2020:

  • 777,798 sheep were exported by sea. Of these, 0.224% died during the voyages, which was 15% lower than the mortality rate in 2019 (0.26%).
  • 33,683 sheep were exported by air. Of these, three died during the flights, a mortality rate of 0.009% compared to 0.012% the previous year.
  • 1.04 million cattle were exported by sea. Of these, 0.11% died during the voyages, which was the same as the previous year.
  • 6,411 cattle were exported by air. Of these, one died (0.016%) during the flights, compared to zero the previous year.
  • There were no goats exported by sea.
  • 8,400 goats were exported by air. Of these, one died during the flights, a mortality rate of 0.012% compared to 0.025% in 2019.

Benefits to industry

The collection of live export transport information has enabled the long-term mapping of the Australian livestock export industry’s overall performance year on year.

Ongoing analysis, especially in areas of key interest such as the welfare of animals, provides valuable data that enables continued improvement in management practices.

MLA action

It is recommended that the collection of annual mortality data continue, to allow an analysis of trends and performance in the livestock export industry. In addition, a change in the expression of results from rates (number of mortalities from the number loaded) to median values. Comparisons made to standardised measures of performance in the trade for classes of animal, time of year, and destination will continue to further clarify trends over time.

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development