Downturn in live cattle exports expected

Zach RelphCountryman
The sun sets on a day's mustering at Yarrie, a remote Pilbara cattle station.
Camera IconThe sun sets on a day's mustering at Yarrie, a remote Pilbara cattle station. Credit: Nic Ellis

The State's northern live trade is expecting to ship fewer cattle this season, as pastoralists try to increase herd numbers while emerging from dry conditions.

Last year, 298,727 cattle were shipped from WA ports with 130,673 head exported from Port Hedland, Wyndham and Broome.

It came as pastoralists sought to destock in an attempt to overcome an extended seasonal dry spell.

Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association chief executive Emma White said pastoralists had started mustering to prepare this year’s turn-off for market.

“Given the significant turn-off last year due to ongoing dry seasonal conditions in northern WA, this meant live export shipments started in February and March,” she said.

“This year, the first vessels haven’t departed Wyndham and Broome until April.

“Overall, however, turn-off-live export numbers are expected to be lower than 2019 whilst the herd across northern WA is rebuilt”.

Department of Agriculture figures show Australian live cattle exports increased 19 per cent from 1.11 million head to 1.28 million last year.

China was among markets hiking the demand, accounting for 157,787 of the total — primarily breeder cattle.

Although China’s demand for live Australian cattle rose, Indonesia and Vietnam remained the top markets and acquired 675,453 head and 266,795 head respectively.

There were 155,003 cattle that departed Fremantle port last year, while 110,987 head were shipped from Broome and 12,219 cattle left from Geraldton port.

At the port of Port Hedland, 6447 cattle departed and 13,239 set sail from Wyndham port.

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