CHINA may have the world's largest sheep flock but it is looking to Australian meat sheep genetics to sustain its growing population.
Live exports of breeding sheep have been leaving Australia since the mid 1990s but Elders International Trading says it has really lifted in the past year as its 1.35 billion people get a taste for lamb.
In October, the live export company sent its latest consignment of 1300 ewes and 70 rams to Urumqi in the Xinjiang province in far north west of China near the Kazahkstan border. It is the first time Australian sheep have been traded into that part of China.
The stud animals were bought in August from SA, Vic, NSW and WA - about half of them came from SA.
After spending time in quarantine at Condah near Hamilton, Vic, the shipment was air-freighted out of Melbourne to China with a brief re-fuelling in Singapore.
They arrived at Urumqi 14 hours after leaving Australia, and will spend the next four to six months at the quarantine facility there. In December, they will be mated and shedded until lambing down.
Elders International Trading shipping and commercial coordinator David Reed said it was a valuable market especially given British Breed on-property sales had been a bit flat this year.
"We were paying $350 for black Suffolk ewes and $300 for anything else which was good money - especially given some of the on-property stud ewe sales averaged below the $300 mark this year," he said.
"It is another order in the market which can lift demand and price of their sheep."
*Full report in Stock Journal, November 14 issue, 2013. Like Stock Journal on Facebook