Australia has a long history of exporting breeding livestock to countries around the world, supported superior genetics and Australia’s favourable disease and health status. 

The demand for Australian breeding livestock internationally is growing. Exported breeding livestock may be productive in market for many years and move between facilities during their lifetime. While ESCAS does not therefore apply exported breeding livestock, it is important that Australian livestock exporters undertake appropriate due diligence to ensure welfare risks are adequately managed. Welfare risks vary significantly depending on the reason Australian breeding livestock are imported, generally being:

  • to enter commercial operations (corporate dairies, beef, sheep & goat breeding enterprises) where the overall risk to welfare is low due to the commercial drivers to achieve productivity, or
  • to deliver on public policy under small holder/poverty alleviation aid & development programs. These programs are often funded by trading partner Governments and are of higher risk.

A working group comprising of sea and air exporters and representatives with relevant experience from LiveCorp, the Australian Veterinary Association, Australian Government Accredited Veterinarians and the Cattle Council of Australia was formed in 2019, tasked with revising the ALEC breeding livestock policy to better define the role of industry, government and what constitutes appropriate due diligence.

An overarching ALEC breeding livestock policy resulted, applying to all markets, species and receiving entities, with market specific risks to be addressed through controls detailed in a corresponding risk register. A cold climate checklist and associated explanatory document was also developed..

The policy defines reasonable due diligence through completion of a risk assessment using the risk register as a guide. It also comprises additional requirements for small holder/government programs. These include:

  • Ensure agreements and protocols are in place between the exporter and importer (and the funding government if necessary) allowing either party to move/transfer livestock if any adverse animal welfare outcomes are observed within 12 months of export, and
  • The exporter commits to 12 months of oversight and duty of care of breeding livestock supplied to the importing country, targeting the maintenance of a body condition score of ≥2.

Another key component for small holder/government programs is that the policy specifies what industry needs from government, in that government:

  • Recognises that exporters have very limited control of animals once distributed to importing country facilities, irrespective of the due diligence, risk mitigation and oversight undertaken.
  • Undertakes Government to Government discussions as early into the process as feasible to promote a shared ownership of any issues that confront these programs and:
    • Carefully manage expectations about Australia’s capacity to supply so opportunities are not lost, and exporters are not placed in a position where they are pressured to supply.
    • Incorporate mechanisms to assess the distribution of the animals as well as provision of infrastructure, extension services and feed for the animals.
    • Consider previous program review outcomes, acknowledging and discussing identified failings or challenges.
    • Undertake preparatory engagement to ensure basic requirements necessary to support import programs are understood and addressed.
  • Invests with the importing country Government to support programs and its broader food security objectives.

This policy and associated attachments were considered and endorsed by the ALEC Board on 27 October 2020.

ALEC Breeding Livestock Policy 2020 

Cold Climate Destination Checklist Cattle 

Cold Climate Checklist Cattle 

If you would like a copy of the Breeding Livestock Risk Register please email

Further information about the livestock export supply chain for breeder cattle to Indonesia can be found here.