Our vision is to foster connections and cultivate a shared appreciation for Australian agriculture among people from all walks of life.

The average time frame for some voyages as an example is as follows:

Broome to Jakarta is approximately 3.5 days
Darwin to Jakarta is approximately 4.5 days
Townsville to Jakarta is approximately 8 days
Broome to Ho Chi Minh City is approximately 6 days
Darwin to Ho Chi Minh City is approximately 6.5 days
Townsville to Ho Chi Minh City is approximately 9.5 days
Fremantle to Kuwait approximately 13 days*
Fremantle to Saudi Arabia approximately 12 days

* there are often multiple

Each vessel has different ventilation systems. There are large numbers of supply and exhaust fans taking fresh air in and then removing it to ensure a constant circulation. Each fan is fitted with an alarm system which can alert onboard engineers and electricians if they need to be serviced. . Vessels are also fitted with additional fans as part of their contingency planning.

Ventilation systems on livestock vessels are now independently verified and this report is sent to the Australian Federal Government. The Pen Air Turnover (PAT) is verified and these figures are used in the Heat Stress Model when planning the voyage.

Depending on the voyage length, cattle decks may or may not be washed. Often the voyages to South East Asia are too short to require a wash and when the pad is dry, it becomes comfortable bedding for the animals. When cattle are on long haul voyages, washing is planned in accordance with where the vessel is currently situated on the water as there are environmental laws to take into consideration when it comes to washing in certain areas of the ocean. Deck washes on long haul voyages are often planned well in advance to ensure the rules throughout various marine areas around the world are adhered to.

Sheep decks don’t get washed during a voyage because sheep manure is dry and forms a pad of soft bedding when it gets trampled down. This is similar to the yard areas on-farm that hold sheep.
Washing sheep decks would make the conditions humid and flooring underfoot very slippery, which is not ideal for a woolly animal.

No. Of the more than 100 countries exporting sheep, Australia is the only country regulating international animal welfare standards from the farm to the point of processing in overseas markets. The industry is positively influencing the actions of other countries by its presence in the market place and investment in training and infrastructure.

Emma White from the Kimberley Pilbara Cattleman’s Association explains why cattle producers from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of WA cannot just ‘go and do something else’ with their land. Pastoral leases are leases over Crown land which gives the lessee the right to graze authorised livestock on the natural vegetation. SOURCE: https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/information-an…/…/pastoral-leases

Mark de San Miguel is a truck driver owner/operator based out of Broome and explains how cattle are transported in the live export supply chain. A role where you have to be a stock person too, not just a truck driver.

Peter, an experienced First Mate explains the daily routine for him and his crew on-board a livestock export vessel – and why they love what they do.

John Mitchell explains the importance of low stress stock handling in the transportation of livestock.

Australia has a long history of exporting livestock to many countries around the world and for many reasons, which have evolved over time.

Today, many countries want Australian animals because:

Increasingly our efforts to improve animal welfare is recognised as contributing to wider social and ethical change, better treatment of local sheep, improved worker safety and better meat quality.
Importing countries have confidence in the health status and quality of Australian sheep, regulatory certification systems, and our ability for meeting the consistent supply of high-quality sheep.
Australian live animal supply is an integral part of the importing countries’ food security programs.
It supports the development of a local processing sector in developing countries
It strengthens breeding and herd numbers with quality genetics (we don’t just export live animals for slaughter)

Boxed meat is not a substitute for live sheep – the supply of sheep and chilled or frozen meat often caters to distinct markets that are not interchangeable.
There is strong demand for both chilled and live animals from many countries that Australia exports to. These two trades are often complimentary due to catering to different demographics in the importing countries. Chilled meat only has a shelf life of 70 days and caters to more affluent demographics, because the cost of importing chilled and frozen meat is much more expensive than fresh meat from wet markets.
Australian sheep are in demand due to logistical difficulties in delivering and storing meat (in some markets), cultural/religious preferences, and price. There is still strong demand from the Middle East for live Australian animals and when we can’t meet this demand, it is not filled by Australian boxed meat but by live animals from Sudan, Somalia, Eastern Europe, and Asia – countries that do not share Australia’s commitment to animal welfare.

Australia already sends significant amounts of chilled meat to most markets that receive our live animals, however lack of cold chain storage infrastructure and cultural demands means live export has not been completely phased out.

Many of the countries Australia exports live animals to, do not have extensive cold chain storage infrastructure to accommodate solely chilled meats. There are issues t with consumer demands regarding freshness and meeting religious requirements.

Importing high quality Australian animals also ensures national food security in the event of wars, natural disasters and pandemics that halt international trade.

As livestock arrive from farms into quarantine feedlots, they are inspected against the buying requirements. Any animals not suitable are immediately removed and rejected from the export consignment. Any rejected animals are marked, treated if required, and kept separate from the other animals in quarantine.

After receival into the quarantine feedlot, livestock will be drafted (separated) into groups based on weights, sex, and breed so ‘like with like’ livestock are together. This is required for careful planning and preparation of the vessel load plan.

Sheep are kept in their drafted lines in sheds or paddocks and provided access to the same feed they will be provided on the vessel. During drafting any sheep with wool length longer than 20 – 25mm will be removed and shorn. The drafting process also allows for further separation of any sheep not suitable for export.

Likewise, cattle are kept in pens based on their drafted lines, and provided access to the same feed as provided on the vessel.

Once animals are yarded on- farm, the weights are used to calculate the space required for transporting the livestock. Sheep can be transported in trucks with multiple decks while cattle are usually transported in a single deck.

For transport, the deck(s) of the truck are carefully loaded and gates closed. This prevents animals from over-crowding and provides a safe transport environment. Too loose and too tight is not ideal, the truck driver carefully prepares and plans his loads in line with the road transport guidelines to ensure every animal is delivered in good condition.

When an Australian exporter and overseas importer have made a contract, livestock buyers representing the exporter will approach livestock agents and farmers to fill the particular order.

This order will specify the type and class of livestock required and outline the requirements farmers must meet to ensure their animals are prepared for export appropriately.

Livestock buyers will inspect the animals on-farm and select those suitable for export. They are then transported to the pre-export quarantine feedlots where they are introduced to the feed they will have access to on board the vessel and ensure they are fit to travel.

Australian exporters accept the responsibility to ensure the welfare of animals throughout the supply chain until slaughter.That means Australian exporters are responsible for their animals, even after they are discharged and sold to the importer. Through detailed recording systems, exporters know exactly where the animals they have supplied are in the supply chain at all times.

Importer facilities are independently audited by accredited international audit companies according to Australian Government standards (ESCAS), which is higher than the international animal welfare standards (OIE). Australia is the only country to have made this a requirement of the livestock export trade

In most Middle Eastern markets, slaughter is performed without stunning in compliance with Halal religious requirements. Australia has recommended a revised incision site to ensure minimum pain and reduced chance of a false aneurysm.
All Australian animals that are processed in overseas markets are processed in facilities which have been independently audited and approved by the Australian Government.

Exporters also have consultants that work in the market to support importers compliance with ESCAS. Where possible, Australia strongly promotes the use of stunning in our importing countries.

Also related – What is Halal? Halal slaughter is the acceptable technique used to kill an animal for consumption purposes based on Islamic religious beliefs. It requires the animal to be facing a certain direction (towards Qibla), the use of a specific incision technique and the exclusion from prohibited animal sources like pig or animal blood.
The halal slaughter technique uses a prompt incision followed by a uniform and continuous blade movement to cause a sudden complete loss of animal consciousness and resulting death of blood loss. The current recommended cut site parallel to the C1 vertebrate ensures minimal pain and practically eliminates the development of a false aneurysm.

Veterinarians like Mik Hopper are part of the livestock industry because they care about animal welfare and want to see it constantly improve.

Bryce Mooring explains his role as a veterinarian working in Western Australia. Vets are critical to ensure the health and well-being of the livestock in all parts of the supply chain.

The vet’s role during the voyage is to follow specific instructions provided to them by the exporter, this is called an AEP. This AEP outlines the veterinarian’s responsibilities which comply with the Australian Standards of Export of Sheep (ASEL) and the specific exporters Approved Arrangements. The Veterinarian and their compliance with the AEP are audited by Federal Government Independent Observers during a voyage. For more information on the regulatory framework and requirements please see the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/export/controlled-goods/live-animals/sheep

Each stockman will have their own routine, but a daily example is:

5:30am – 6am: Scan the decks prior to feeding to observe how the cattle are acting in a rest period.
6am -7:30am: Watch the cattle as they are receiving their morning feed. Seeing how aggressive they are on the feed, and seeing which animals are hanging back and understanding the mood of the cattle.
7:30 – 8:30am: Stockman breakfast.
8:30am – 10am: Do the ‘rounds’. This is ensuring every animal stands up, checking their legs and individually assessing the animals to ensure they are all comfortable and healthy.
10 – 10:30am: Morning Smoko.
10:30 – 11:30am: Any other checks/treatments that are required. Moving animals to hospital pens if requiring any extra TLC. If required, a top-up of feed can be given.
11:30-12:30: Morning meeting with Chief mate and Bosun (Deck Boss) about the voyage. At this time if adjustments to plans need to be made, it will be done here. The stockman will then go and write their daily report about the voyage to be sent to the exporter (and the department depending on the voyage).
12:30 – 1:30pm: Stockman lunch.
1:30 – 3pm: Walking the decks to observe the cattle. Making a plan for the afternoon feed and assisting the crew to clean waters.
3 – 3:30pm: Afternoon smoko.
3:30 – 5:30pm: Afternoon feed and doing the rounds of the cattle.
Between 5:30pm and 5:30am there will be a night watchman that goes through the decks to clean waters and observe the cattle. If they observe any issues, they will alert the stock person immediately. The stock person may also go down in the evenings to have a look at the cattle whilst they are in a resting state. You do not want to constantly be disturbing the cattle in the evening as they are trying to rest

Livestock travel considerably well on the vessels and in most cases will even put on weight during their voyage. Most of the livestock will adapt to their new environment within the first day or so and start to settle into a consistent routine.

Most exporters aim to have cattle gain weight between Australia and their overseas destination port, which can be achieved through consistent feeding and access to clean, fresh water. The cattle from Northern Australia are tough animals well suited to the South East Asian climate leading to an extremely high success rate on voyages.

Australian Accredited Veterinarians (AAV’s) are required on all journeys which are considered long haul, if the vessel is transporting pregnant animals and when directed by government.
It is the AAV’s duty to treat any sick or injured animals in designated hospital pens. If the animal requires euthanasia the AAV’s have the appropriate medical equipment supplied onboard to humanely carry this out.
If an animal is found deceased in a pen, they are moved to specified points where a post-mortem is carried out to ensure the welfare of remaining animals. All sickness and death are recorded daily and sent to the Australian Federal Government.

Depending on the type of illness the animal may have, treatment will vary however the general procedure is:

Identify the animal and what is believed to be the issue or cause of the livestock’s concern.
If required, pull the animal out of its pen and move it to a hospital pen where it can be isolated and treated without being potentially injured more by other livestock in a confined space.
Each vessel is equipped with a range of medicines that the stockman will administer to the animal as required.
Continue to monitor and treat the animal accordingly.

Aside from the general personnel required for the ship, competent stock handlers are required for every journey. These individuals can consist of crew members which have the required animal handling skills or more commonly, an accredited stockperson.
During the journey, vessels have a minimum of 1 competent stock handler per 30,000 sheep or 3000 cattle. On top of this an Australian accredited veterinarian is required on all journeys unless meeting exceptions of the export code. The competent stock handler and veterinarian work closely with the crew to ensure the common goal of high animal welfare is achieved.
Daily duties include providing freshwater, clean feed, dry bedding and the monitoring of animals – ensuring sick or injured sheep are removed and treated.