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National mortality recording system for the live sheep, goat and cattle export industries

The objectives of the project were to summarise the mortality levels of sheep, cattle and goats exported by sea from Australia in 2005. A second objective was to distribute a summary report to industry stakeholders, government, animal welfare groups and other parties interested in monitoring mortalities the live animal export trade.

The overall death rate for sheep during sea transport to all destinations during 2005 was 0.95% out of approximately 4 million sheep exported. This was greater than the 0.75% death rate observed in 2004 (P < 0.05). The likely explanation for the increased annual death rate in sheep exported in 2005 compared to 2004 is that there were almost one million more sheep exported during the second half of 2005 than in 2004. Consequently, exports in the second half of the year comprised 64% of all sheep exported in 2005 compared to 51% in the same period in 2004. Exports to Saudi Arabia recommenced in July 2005. The risk of death is known to be higher in the second half of the year in sheep sourced from southern Western Australia associated with the natural metabolic state of sheep associated with the pasture and nutritional conditions at that time of the year (Refer to Appendix 1). The main port of loading was Fremantle (3.5 million sheep exported and death rate of 0.97%), followed by Portland (311,000 sheep exported and death rate of 0.83%) and Adelaide (301,000 sheep exported and death rate of 1.00%). Death rates of sheep exported from Portland remained low during winter months, repeating the pattern seen in recent years.

The overall death rate among the 0.56 million cattle exported from Australia in 2005 was 0.14%, a rise from the 0.10% observed in 2004 (P < 0.05). The increase in death rates of cattle in 2005 compared to 2004 was mainly due to increased death rates on voyages to South East Asia associated with changes in the fleet carrying the cattle and journey times. The highest overall death rate on a regional basis was to the Middle East/North Africa followed by Mexico. Death rates on voyages to the Middle East/North Africa fell slightly in 2005 despite an almost 50% increase in the number of cattle exported compared to the previous year.

The overall death rate was 0.77% among the 14,706 goats exported from Australia in 2005, a decline from the 0.88% observed in 2004 (P > 0.05). There are only 12 goats exported to the Middle East in 2005, a sharp reduction from the 70,000 exported in 2002.

Industry stakeholders, government, animal welfare groups and the general public have a keen interest in monitoring mortalities in different sectors of the live export trade. The summary report provides a breakdown of industry performance in each of the major sectors.

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175.3KB 01/07/2006

This page was last updated on 19/09/2018