Australia’s live sheep export and live cattle export industries work with the Australian Government to improve the welfare of Australian livestock in key live sheep export and live cattle export markets across south east Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.Livestock producers and exporters involved in exporting live sheep and live cattle from Australia spend over $4 million a year to improve the welfare and management of Australian live cattle and live sheep exported overseas, with the Australian Government investing a further $550,000 in 2010-11 through the Live Trade Animal Welfare Partnership.This funding goes towards infrastructure improvements, training and education, with a particular priority on making advancements for Australian livestock in Indonesia and across the Middle East and North Africa.In 2009-10 significant improvements were made in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Indonesia.
As the largest market for Australian livestock in the Middle East, Kuwait was a major focus, with three of its major processing facilities revolutionised. This has made major welfare improvements for Australian sheep exported to Kuwait through the live sheep trade.New custom-made yards, races, ramps and processing tables were constructed and installed at the facilities and staff were trained on how to handle Australian sheep. The changes have been embraced by the operators of the facilities who can see that by improving animal handling and welfare they also improve their processing efficiency.New processing equipment, including equipment that safely and humanely restrains livestock prior to processing, has also been installed in Bahrain, Qatar and Indonesia. Staff also received training, which has made significant changes for Australian livestock in these markets.A project is also underway in Bahrain to evaluate and develop best practice management strategies for the feed, water and pen space requirements of Australian sheep exported to Middle Eastern feedlots. The project will measure the welfare impacts of different stocking density and trough space variations on Australian sheep in Middle East conditions.Scientific literature is scarce in relation to these welfare parameters, with no quantified relationship between pen design and performance and current guidelines varying widely. The study will be completed in 2011, with a set of recommendations developed for pen densities based on seasonal variation and the availability of suitable amounts of feed and water trough space.Cattle management training schools have also been held in Indonesia for local farmers to equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to manage Australian cattle in their local villages.
Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp have recently run training schools at a cattle breeding centre in Lampung for local farmers who live in the surrounding area. The training has focused on animal health, housing and livestock management, and will ensure that local farmers are able to properly care for the cattle they purchase from the local feedlot.Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp also provide training on breeding, nutrition and animal management for Indonesian feedlots and breeding enterprises.The live export of sheep and cattle continues to be very important to Australia and the continued investment in improving animal welfare throughout the industry is equally important to the future of the industry in Australia.