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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2012
SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2012 39 Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council While the impact was direct on the northern cattle trade, no sector including sheep exports was to be left unscathed. Within a month ALEC in conjunction with the Sheepmeat Council and other industry players, had negotiated a plan to reopen the trade through the implementation of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS). Under these arrangements, each exporter committed to implement new animal welfare processes. In turn, the Government committed to ensuring that any breaches in a particular supply chain would not lead to industry-wide sanctions. ESCAS is now being rolled out globally in Australia’s feeder and slaughter markets for sheep, cattle and goats. Australia’s major sheep markets on recent figures – Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are now ESCAS markets having come on line with the new system on the 1st March this year. Industry is now working towards implementation of all tranche 2 markets for the 1 September start date including the markets of the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. The complex distribution systems of the Saudi market may hold back the establishment of ESCAS for the foreseeable future but exporters are continuing to strive for the inclusion of this market and the opening of new sheep markets over the course of 2012. Australian sheep remain highly regarded by Middle Eastern markets but continuing the trend of recent years, global sheep export volumes fell to 2,458,448 in 2011 (down 17% on 2010). However, strong demand for quality Australian sheep pushed the value of the trade up slightly to A$328 million for the Live Export under the microscope. The past twelve months have been the toughest and most challenging for the Australian livestock exports. Never before had the industry’s very existence and legitimacy been questioned like it was on June 7th 2011 when the Federal Government slapped a six month ban on feeder cattle exports to Indonesia. 2011 year. Financial year 2012 is shaping up poorly with sheep numbers for the first nine months down 20% on March 2011 figures. Kuwait remains Australia’s largest sheep market but 2011 volumes at 956,642, were down 11% on 2010. Qatar and Bahrain were the next biggest markets in 2011 with exports respectively of 395,752 (up 23%) and 354,450 (down 34%). The trade to Saudi Arabia remains weak with sales in 2011 down by 91% to 24,000. Factors affecting Saudi market performance have been cheaper available sheep from Georgia, Sudan and Somalia, as well as a reduction in vessel availability for Australian livestock. Industry remained committed to research and development throughout 2011/12. The R&D program had a strong focus on animal welfare initiatives with an increased emphasis on developing extension material to support industry implementation of ESCAS. Sheep projects during 2011/12 continued to centre on identification, prevention and treatment of illnesses that affect export sheep. Work continued in developing backgrounding and feedlot strategies to reduce inanition in sheep. One project has successfully designed, constructed, installed and tested an electronic tracking system in a pre-export feedlot. Sheep are tagged with electronic N LIS tags and data can be collected and accessed remotely and reports generated to provide information about the attendance by sheep at feed and water troughs. The reports also list those individual sheep which may be at risk due to low cumulative time at feed and water troughs. The system can be used to track up to 5000 sheep at any one time to determine the incidence of inanition. Results from this project will guide other R&D projects. Ovine pink eye treatments are also being investigated with promising results showing the effectiveness of in-feed and water medication. Also, of particular importance during 2011/12 was the further development of a salmonella vaccine suitable for use in the live export environment. Studies demonstrated that oral delivery of a modified live Salmonella vaccine lacking the DNA adenine methylase (DAM) confers protection against a diversity of clinically relevant salmonellae that are commonly associated with disease in cattle, sheep, poultry and humans. Further research and development is required on the modified live Salmonella vaccine to decrease the chances of reversion to virulence. For both sheep and cattle, the R&D program delivered an upgrade to the heat stress risk assessment software. This software now assesses both port and voyage risk and includes a number of additional voyage routes and ports. Aircraft ventilation software was also developed that allows users to assess animal physiological parameters against aircraft ventilation capacity. The current R&D program also has a number of projects focussing on improving or standardising the approaches to collecting data on board ships and describing the causes of mortality. In parallel with this project a comprehensive live export veterinary disease handbook was developed. Two disease investigation and pathology