A financial year analysis of livestock exports can be found here


General Export Figures

Cattle: Cattle export numbers are reported here on a monthly basis

In 2014-15, Australia exported 1.38 million cattle valued at A$1.35 billion FOB. This reflected a 22% increase on 2013-14. Indonesia was Australia’s largest live cattle export market, taking 746,193 head, up 20% year-on- year and was valued at A$601 million FOB. Indonesia accounted for 54% of total Australian live cattle exports in 2014-15. In 2014-15, the second largest market for Australian cattle was Vietnam, taking 309,505 head (up 136% on 2013-14), valued at A$328 million FOB.

Sheep: Sheep export numbers are reported here on a monthly basis

In 2014-15, Australia exported 2.18 million sheep, up 9% on 2013-14, and were valued at A$244 million FOB.

The Middle East accounted for 97% of Australian live sheep exports for 2014-15. Kuwait remained the largest market for Australian live sheep in 2014-15, at 616,842 head, back 19% on 2013-14, and was valued at A$66 million FOB.


Australia exported 90,950 goats in 2014-15, up 12% on 2013-14, valued at A$9.6 million FOB.

The largest export market for live goats was Malaysia, at 87,991 head, up 45% year-on-year, which accounted for 97% of total exports.

Dairy Cattle:

Dairy cattle exports from Australia decreased 21% in 2014-15, to 73,355 head, worth A$167 million FOB.  China remained the largest dairy cattle export market, taking 62,643 head, back 20% year-on-year, valued at A$142 million FOB.

Mortality Rate

Under the Australian Standard for the Export of Livestock (ASEL), exporters must meet statutory reporting requirements during export and after livestock have reached their destination. The reportable mortality levels on a voyage or air journey are defined under ASEL as the percentages listed below or 3 animals, whichever is the greater number of animals:

• Sheep and goats: 2%
• Cattle and buffalo on a voyage less than 10 days: 0.5%
• Cattle and buffalo on a voyage more than 10 days: 1%
• Camelids: 2%
• Deer: 2%

If an exporter reports a voyage mortality rate greater than these legislated levels, the Department of Agriculture undertakes an investigation which result in regulatory action. This information is published the Department’s website and tabled in the Australian Parliament every six months.

In 2013, the mortality rate for sheep exports was 0.74%, and since 2003 mortality rates of exported sheep have not risen above 1%.

Since 1995 the total annual mortality rate has varied between 0.1% – 0.42% and the 2013 mortality rate was 0.11%.


Economic Significance

Australia’s livestock export industry has a significant impact on farm gate returns for livestock producers Australia wide, even for those not directly involved in the livestock export trade.

In 2011, the Centre for International Economics (CIE) completed an independent assessment of the value of Australia’s livestock export industry. The CIE analysed the potential changes to market outputs, such as the price and quantity of livestock, should the live trade be closed. The analysis also looked at the impacts of this across Australia’s entire livestock industry.

This report found that in the absence of a livestock export trade, Australian producers would be impacted significantly and negatively, stating that ‘without live exports farm gate returns would be lower because of the lower demand for livestock and higher transport costs involved in transporting animals to alternative markets’.
The report found that:

1. On average, the livestock export trade significantly increases livestock prices across the Australian red meat industry and in the absence of the livestock trade;

  • the saleyard price of grass fed cattle would be 4% or 7.8 cents per kilogram lower, and
  • the saleyard price for the sheep industry would also be lower, with a drop of 7.6% or 12 cents per kilogram for lambs and 17.6% or 14.6 cents per kilogram for older sheep

2. The live trade contributes significantly on a Gross Value of Production basis to farm level industries and in the absence of the livestock trade,

  • Farm level income would drop by $47 million or 3.1% in the cattle industry and $64 million or 12% in the sheep industry.

The report noted that while goats contribute significantly to the livestock export industry, as they are harvested from rangeland systems it is unlikely that in the absence of the trade, increased numbers would be diverted into the domestic processing system. A net benefit of the live trade in goats is improved environmental management of rangeland systems.

In March 2014, Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI) commissioned the Centre for International Economics to undertake a research report considering the economic contribution of the livestock export industry, this time with a specific focus on Australia’s wool industry. The report was developed to determine the impact of the trade on woolgrowers and was calculated by comparing 2011/12 market outcomes, such as production and price, with the outcomes that would have been realised in the absence of the livestock export trade.

Similarly to the findings of the 2011 report, the report found that:

1. The livestock export trade, significantly impacts the saleyard prices across Australia

  • In the absence of the trade, average saleyard prices would decrease by $4.07 per head or 4.5% for lambs and $13.20 per head or 24.4% for older sheep i.e. prices for sheep would have been between $4 – $13 lower than observed in 2011-12 if the livestock export trade was closed