Younger sheep now make up bulk of live trade

12 Aug, 2010 04:00 AM
Wellard's Singaporean-based owner Mauro Balzarini spoke about the challenges and opportunities facing the live export trade at the recent LambEx conference.
Wellard's Singaporean-based owner Mauro Balzarini spoke about the challenges and opportunities facing the live export trade at the recent LambEx conference.

THE Australian sheep industry would not exist without live export, according to livestock exporter Wellard.

At the recent LambEx conference, Wellard's Singaporean-based owner Mauro Balzarini discussed how exporters see the live export industry and the challenges they face.

Wellard is Australia's largest livestock exporter and Mr Balzarini said live trade provided important marketplace competition across the WA sheep industry.

He said live export had undergone many changes over the years and exporting prime product today had a very different value from the export of heavy wethers, which is what the Australian live export industry used to be built on.

Mr Balzarini said the price increase had provided the industry with a number of challenges in importing countries, but with the challenges came opportunities.

"We have to convince the customer of the value and sometimes it's hard to tell our customers that it's going to be $150 a head," Mr Balzarini said.

"Our work has been convincing them that there is value in what they are buying.

"We know the value is there, Australia probably produces the best lamb in the world.

"The problem is that it's the live export sector's job to make sure this high quality lamb looks high quality when the sheep are delivered to the customers in the Middle East.

"That is the challenge nowadays."

Mr Balzarini said the process begun in Australia with the implementation of the correct live export protocol, extended to proper voyage preparation in the feedlots and included the actual maritime transport process so the sheep arrived in the best possible condition at their destination.

But just as the Australian sheep industry has undergone a transformation, so too has the live export sector, with a greater focus on younger sheep.

And just as lambs now play an increasingly important role in the make up of the live export trade, the live export industry is playing an increasing role providing marketplace competition for young sheep produced by Australia's sheep farmers.

But the changes haven't been confined to the type of sheep that now make up the trade.

Mr Balzarini said the industry once relied on older, converted vessels with simple livestock services but now focused on the use of new modern vessels.

Wellard's built new ships on the basis that they could design the vessel around the need of the animal, focussing on superior feed, water and ventilation systems, designed to specifically improve on-board animal welfare.

"Nowadays people look at the container as much as they look at the product," Mr Balzarini said.

He said another step taken to improve the supply chain was opening feedlots in the receiving countries such as Oman.

"This allows us to take another step for the control of the product and also allows us to keep a very close relationship with the marketplace," Mr Balzarini said.

"Rather than just listening to people, we have people on the ground there that understand the need of the market, which can serve the market better."

Mr Balzarini said it was important that Australian sheep producers also understood their end markets, which buy and consume their product.

"The shift to lighter, younger export sheep has been supply rather than demand driven, which presents potential market risks," he said.

"Typically, sheep in the Middle East are purchased by local importers on a dollar per head basis but then sold into the domestic sheep meat market on a per kilogram basis.

"That puts pressure on the price if the animal doesn't carry the weight."

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Tell the truth
12/08/2010 6:55:22 AM, on Farm Weekly

Why all the PR claptrap? Clearly the cruel live export trade thinks it must shore up confidence in its business in case farmers dump this dying business en masse. All the rubbish about improvements - SHOW us these so called improvements because what the public see is fantasy. The TRUTH is that greedy farmers and exporters have exported most of the sheep and are now facing a crisis they created. To hell with Aussies and Aussie jobs. And most importantly to hell with the animals because no matter what is claimed by the farming/live export industry the animals pay the price every step of the way. If they don't die before they reach the destination they pay the ulitmate price in a most cruel and sadistic way. There is no way any decent person can deny the inherant cruelty which defines the live trade. Australia has reputation as being a vile, nasty cruel and vicious nation. Well deserved I say. Ban this gruesome bloodthirsty trade.
12/08/2010 4:00:00 PM, on Farm Weekly

Wow what a spleen venting TtT. Hope you got rid of all that bile and bullshit. Would not be much point showing zealots like you anything. Your more one eyed then a Collingwood worshipper. You say to hell a lot. Meat packers said that to farmers a long time ago.
12/08/2010 5:44:24 PM, on Farm Weekly

Mr Balzarini is indeed to be congratulated, for his company has led the charge in transforming the live trade from what it once was. New and better ships, designed for the purpose have turned the boats into floating feedlots, where animals gain weight along the way. Humane handling of livestock is also part of the process. What happens on these boats is now also publicly documented, but our resident greenies seem to ignore all that information. The live trade is indeed critical to the WA livestock industries, for we've seen what happens in the saleyards, when they are not bidding. Yes, turning sheep into chops and roasts can be a bit of a gruesome and messy process wherever it happens. But dying for humans, can be a gruesome and messy process too. It seems to me that our resident greenies simply can't get their minds around the realities of life. Dying of starvation, as happens to many animals in nature, is hardly the kinder option.
13/08/2010 10:28:09 AM, on Farm Weekly

Pretty soon the abattoir industry won't exist because of live exports and all the Australian jobs and contribution to the economy along with it. Australia might produce good lambs, but only if a processor buys direct from the farmer, then to the supermarket or butcher and onto the plate. With live exports the animals goes from the farm, to feedlot, to truck to ship, more handling and transportation and then onto consumers in the Middle East. It must be as tough as old boots and dark as hell with all the stress, poor handling, failure to eat, time off wayer and so on. Australians certainly wouldnt eat it. I cant see how you can say its a good product? Lets send them chilled instead.
13/08/2010 2:11:13 PM, on Farm Weekly

The majority of people are sick of the cruelty of the live trade, and will continue to oppose this greedy, inhumane way of treating livestock. It's so obvious that animal welfare is not important to those who supply animals to be live exported and treated horrendously in some of the world's most disgusting abattoirs. Live export has no place in a decent society and must be ended.
16/08/2010 2:36:19 PM, on Farm Weekly

Aussie workers are losing their livelihoods because of live export, and Aussie animals are suffering. Let's get rid of this sickening trade.
Get Real
18/08/2010 2:18:50 PM, on Farm Weekly

Ban it now.
yoo Betcha
3/09/2010 4:16:00 PM, on Farm Weekly

Good one Vanessa, boy you hear that a lot; "Aussie workers are losing their livelihoods because of live export" - care to explain how this is? Many people including myself work in the industry and it provides a salary to feed my kids, provide protection, housing, schooling and clothing for them and a little bit left over for some leisure activities. So good on you Vanessa BAN LIVE EXPORTS and put a heap of Aussies out of work and starve my kids. Unbelievably naive!!!!!!


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