Live Export

Dept of Ag reports livestock mortalities on Brahman Express

Beef Central, 26/03/2024

The Department of Agriculture says it is working with a livestock exporter to determine the cause of deaths of Australian cattle on a ship which sailed from Darwin to Indonesia in recent days.

The Brahman Express

DAF released a statement this afternoon confirming it has been notified by an exporter of the deaths.

The statement followed media reports than more than 100 cattle have died on the vessel. The Department has yet to formally confirm the number of deaths involved.

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council has reported that initial assumptions are that the mortalities may have resulted from a case of Botulism, with the affected animals coming from a single property. (See ALEC’s full statement below).

The Department named the vessel as the Brahman Express, which shipping records show left Darwin on March 15 and arrived at the Port of Panjang in Indonesia on Wednesday, March 20 before moving onto the port of Belawan on Saturday, March 22.

“We have been notified by a commercial exporter of an incident involving cattle deaths on a live export vessel exporting to Indonesia,” the DAFF statement issued this afternoon reads.

“Prior to departure, the department undertook pre-export inspections to ensure that the livestock met requirements under the Export Control Act 2020 and importing-country requirements.

“There is no suggestion that exotic animal disease is involved. We are investigating the incident as per normal procedures and as a matter of priority.

“Australia remains free of exotic animal diseases such as Lumpy Skin Disease and Foot and Mouth Disease.”

It is not known how many cattle the Brahman Express was transporting, but the vessel is understood to have a capacity of around 4500 feeder cattle or 2200 heavier weight cattle.

Cattle exported from Australia are held to stringent mortality reporting rules.

Under Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL), exporters must notify the Department when a voyage mortality rate reaches the notifiable mortality level.

The notifiable mortality level for cattle transported by sea is 0.5 percent of the shipment or three animals, whichever is greater.

Australian standards also require all export consignments to be inspected within three days of export by at least two veterinarians – one appointed by Government, the other by the exporter – and passed as healthy and fit for transport.

Australian LIvestock Exporters Council statement 

“ALEC understands that a shipment of cattle to Indonesia experienced a significant mortality event during a voyage to Indonesia that discharged on 24 March.

“The number of deaths are yet to be confirmed through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) investigation process.

“Initial assumptions are that this is a case of Botulism, with the affected animals coming from a single property. Efforts are underway to treat remaining animals that may be affected.

“Prior to departure, all livestock loaded onto the vessel were assessed to be in good health and fit to load and were inspected by veterinarians.”

“The issue was self-reported by the exporter, which is assisting DAFF with further investigation. The exporter has conducted itself correctly through the process and will work closely with DAFF to determine the cause of the deaths.

“DAFF is engaging with Indonesian officials to keep them informed of the issue. Australia is confident that there is no evidence of an exotic disease and that our Animal Health Status remains unchanged.

“Indonesia is Australia’s most important trading partner for live cattle and it is important that we work closely and transparently with them as we work through this issue.”



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  1. Helen, 27/03/2024

    If it was botulism, I do hope they were vaccinated and the vaccination not withheld so as to be lump free for sale.

  2. Denise Lawson, 26/03/2024

    Time no animal from Australia is transported live anywhere!! We can export ethically killed frozen meat, it can be distributed on arrival, no more excuses.

    • Ruth Jocelyn Doran, 27/03/2024

      Denise if Australia stops live exporting cattle the importing countries will just source their cattle from countries which have no animal ethics standards.

    • John Ribot, 27/03/2024

      Its the customer that is driving demand Denise, don’t you think that the industry would understand that already?
      This event has nothing to do with the journey, and in the coming days you may find that they were fed contaminated food well before the journey that has reacted even with cattle that are back on station.

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