WESTERN Australia's cattle exports have been rather tame this year so far with the national figures dropping 32 per cent on last year.
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment figures show that just 43,551 head were exported by sea from Fremantle, Broome and Wyndham to the end of April.
The only voyages to leave WA in April departed from Broome to Indonesia with 2912 head of feeder cattle on board and from Fremantle with 292 slaughter cattle to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
That followed on from the only voyage from Wyndham this year to Indonesia with 3801 head of feeder cattle on board in March.
March also saw a shipment of 5755 feeder cattle from Fremantle to Israel and 1048 breeder cattle which left Fremantle for China.
February figures were the standout with 9535 slaughter cattle from Fremantle to Vietnam, 3685 feeders from Fremantle to Indonesia, 2114 slaughter cattle from Fremantle to Malaysia, 1816 slaughter cattle from Fremantle to Brunei Darussalam and 1806 feeder cattle from Broome to Indonesia.
January saw a small number (240) head of slaughter cattle head to the UAE and Kuwait, 2017 breeders to China, 6154 feeders to Israel and 4478 feeders to Vietnam, all from Fremantle Port.
Nationally a total of 250,100 head were exported from January to the end of April, down 32pc on last year.
The largest markets were Indonesia, 138,384 head (down 3pc), Vietnam, 44,367 head (down 59pc), China, 34,600 (down 8pc) and Israel, 11,909 head (down 26pc).
The fifth largest market was Brunei which bucked the trend with an increase of 178pc to just 7410 head.
Feeder cattle were the most sought after at 162,088 head, followed by slaughter cattle at 53,951 head and breeder cattle at 34,061.
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton said high prices and supply were key issues to the reduction in numbers being exported in 2021, but considering the herd rebuild happening in the Eastern States and the industry's challenges it was "ticking along pretty well", particularly for WA.
"The pleasing thing is the demand," Mr Harvey-Sutton said.
"The demand has kept up with our markets still buying cattle and that's a really important point.
"It's very reliable - the high prices (about $4 per kilogram) aren't necessarily deterring that demand.
"And it is across the whole supply chain from local processors to exporters."
Mr Harvey-Sutton said the sector was going through a "natural cycle of things" and the WA market was "pretty good from what I can see".
"There's cattle going everywhere from WA," he said.
"That's the one advantage the WA export sector has.
"They're sending breeders to China, feeder and slaughter cattle to South East Asia and Israel has also had consignments there."
He said the Australian cattle export industry was "very resilient" due to a few key factors that have seen it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
That included market access, its designation as an essential service and demand from its strongest markets, namely Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Israel.