By: Anna Inglis
While the Awassi breeding flock is growing – along with sheep export numbers – the intention is not to replace merino sheep exports but to continually expand Awassi sheep exports, which is often a preferred breed in the Middle East.
Australia has a world-wide reputation as a supplier of disease free, fit and healthy livestock. Australia has high quality pastures and space to raise livestock and one of the worlds best health statuses.
The live sheep export industry is an important industry to Australia, providing a vital market for sheep producers to sell their livestock to and underpinning the domestic sheep production industry.
The majority of sheep are exported from the port of Fremantle in Western Australia, with almost three quarters of Australian sheep exported from this port in 2009. Over 50% of sheep from the sheep production industry in Western Australia are exported live overseas, making the industry especially important to the Western Australian economy. Other ports that export live sheep include Portland and Port Adelaide.
Australian sheep are exported to countries across the Middle East, primarily Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE. In 2009 over 3.5 million sheep were exported to these countries, with Kuwait taking 950,000 head and and Bahrain taking 747,000 head of sheep respectively. The number of sheep exported in 2009 represented a drop of 15% on the previous year, with demand for the live export of sheep far outstripping supply in the Australian sheep production industry last year. This has resulted in calls for the sheep farming industry to rebuild sheep flocks in the coming years.
In 2009 the live export of sheep contributed A$323 million to the Australian economy.
Australia also has a live cattle export industry and a live goat export industry, primarily exporting to countries throughout South East Asia. Indonesia is the primary market for the live cattle export industry, and Malaysia is the primary market for the live goat export industry. The live cattle export industry contributed A$662 million to the Australian economy in 2009, and the live goat export industry contributed A$11.5 million.
The livestock export invests heavily in improving the welfare of sheep, cattle and goats throughout the livestock export industry.