LSS sends off large sheep shipment

27 Feb, 2015 01:00 AM
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WA exporter Livestock Shipping Services' (LSS) Maysora vessel set off for its 97th voyage over the weekend.

LSS export manager Paul Keenan said the vessel had 90,000 sheep, one of the largest shipments of sheep for the past 12 months.

"Last week we sent a shipment of 50,000 sheep and 10,000 cattle on board," Mr Keenan said.

"Two Australians along with a certified vet and a team of 76 will make the voyage to the Middle East."

In the past five years, LSS has exported more than 3.3 million sheep and 500,000 head of cattle to overseas markets.

The Maysora has the capacity to ship about 110,000 sheep (or 70,000 sheep and 12,000 cattle).

Mr Keenan said the company had processes in place to combat the tighter livestock supply issue, but acknowledged that it would get tougher to source stock in the coming months.

"Supply will become an issue, because it is seasonal," Mr Keenan said.

"We still have the numbers, but it's always hard during the winter because of stock turn off in WA.''

Mr Keenan believes there won't be much difference in herd sizes, to what exporters saw last year.

He said exporter numbers are normal for this time of year.

"We have a good network, and very good support from the agents and farmers,'' Mr Keenan said.

"The last shipment were cattle we were backgrounding from earlier in the year."

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) recently warned that cattle numbers could affect live export supply over the next few years.

MLA Australian Cattle Industry projections for 2015 state the trade could be affected due to two years of widespread drought across some of the largest cattle producing regions in Australia.

Cattle turn-off (slaughter and live exports) in 2014 was at an all time high – at an estimated 10.5m head.

"The Australian cattle herd is expected to decline to 26.8m head by June – going from what was a 35-year high herd to what will be a two decade low herd in the space of just 24 months," the projections warn.

"Tighter Australian cattle supplies are likely to be one of the major limiting factors for live exporters over the coming years, especially considering the flow-on effects of the unmatched turn-off during 2014.

"Slightly further out, live exports for 2017 are likely to dip to 875,000 head, in line with peak producer rebuilding intentions, before slowly increasing again as the national herd expands.

"Cattle availability not only heavily influences live export forecasts, but also the market access situation, which will be monitored closely, including the announcement of 98,000 permits to Indonesia for the first quarter of 2015."

Another exporter servicing WA, Wellard Rural Exports's chief executive officer Fred Troncone said it filled half a vessel recently, but this was not due to the lack of supply in WA.

"Wellard brought a vessel to Fremantle to load pellets produced by Wellard Feeds at Wongan Hills," Mr Troncone said.

"Due to supply issues created by rains across the top end of Australia, we used the opportunity to load several thousand cattle while in Fremantle to take some pressure off our northern buying program."

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