Australia’s Livestock Export Industry – The Facts

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of livestock, and the most successful country engaged in international livestock exports. Australia is an important source of protein for many countries around the world that cannot produce enough livestock to feed their population, and we are able to meet overseas demand for livestock exports as well as chilled and boxed meat products.

Australia’s livestock exports include cattle, sheep and goats that are exported overseas for either food production or breeding. Many countries prefer to purchase livestock for cultural and religious reasons. In addition, many people have a preference for fresh meat rather than chilled or frozen products and in some cases a lack of infrastructure means people need to buy fresh meat every day instead of the chilled meat that’s available at supermarkets or butchers.

The live export industry is focused on ensuring Australia’s animals are well cared for and that the industry meets the standards that Australian farmers, livestock exporters and communities expect. The Australian live export industry is recognised as having the world’s highest animal welfare standards for the export of livestock and is subject to strict regulatory requirements to ensure the well-being of Australian animals exported to overseas markets.

The Australian Standards for the Exports of Livestock (ASEL) cover all aspects of the live export process from property of origin, road transport, pre-export assembly, loading and shipment and were developed in consultation with the livestock export industry, governments and animal welfare groups. Australian livestock exporters must hold a valid Livestock Export Licence which is issued by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). Exporters, agents and producers who supply to the international livestock export trade must comply with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).

AQIS officers inspect all animals prior to loading to ensure they are fit to travel and experienced veterinarians accredited by AQIS oversee and certify that livestock have been prepared in accordance with requirements set out in the ASEL.

All consignments of livestock exports are assessed prior to departure to determine how many animals can be exported on the ship so that they have sufficient space to move around, access the constantly available feed and water and lay down.

Highly-trained, accredited Australian stockmen accompany all international livestock export voyages and work with a trained on-board crew to provide care for animals and report regularly on the progress of the voyage. AQIS accredited vets accompany livestock on all Middle East consignments to provide an extra level of care, also reporting daily to AQIS.

In partnership with the Australian Government, the livestock export industry also invests farmer and livestock exporter levies into improving the way Australian animals are handled and processed overseas. Farmer levies are invested through Meat and Livestock Australia, and livestock exporter levies are invested through the Australian Livestock Exporter Corporation (LiveCorp). Priorities for funding of animal welfare improvements are made in collaboration with stakeholders from throughout the livestock export industry, including the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, who help to set the direction for the industry.

Projects funded to date include infrastructure improvements at feedlots and ports and the development and delivery of animal welfare training courses. The industry monitors animal handling and care conditions through regular inspection and assessment of facilities.

The Australian livestock export industry is a vital Australian industry. Each year it makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy, contributing $1.8 billion to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product employing 13,000 Australians. The industry also provides a vital source of income for thousands of farming families and is the blood line of many communities across regional and remote Australia.