Three livestock vessels will leave Darwin this week and more will follow next month as exporters look to end a turbulent 2011 season on a high note.
Wellard Rural Exports, South East Asian Livestock Services and Elders’ North Australia Cattle Company will each load cattle at the Port of Darwin later this week.
Wellard finished loading 9000 cattle on the MV Ocean Shearer in Broome today and will load up to 17,000 cattle in Darwin from Thursday to ship to Indonesia.
A large portion of the Darwin consignment will come from Wellard’s own floodplain country in the Northern Territory, which the company uses to provide a reliable source of supply late in the season when numbers are often difficult to source and prices are seasonally high.
Cattle traditionally stop putting on weight by the middle of the northern dry season around late July, and gradually start to lose weight from September until the end of year wet season kicks in.
While recent rain will have helped to freshen up northern cattle, the average weight of the Wellard’s consignment is around 300kg. The smaller weights will allow more cattle to be loaded which in turn is set to lead to a world record volume for this consignment.
The final number that will be loaded remains subject to estimates at this point, because while Wellard knows how many cattle it will load, other exporters have contracted space on the Shearer as well.
However the expectation is that it will carry around 26,000 head when it departs for Indonesia on Saturday, which would break the 24,683 head world record set by the Shearer in September.
SEALS will load 2000 head on Sunday aboard the Nine Eagle, which will then make the seven-day round trip to Malaysia.
Company director Sid Parker said that upon its return to Darwin the Nine Eagle will be loaded immediately for Indonesia.
SEALS has sent two shipments to Indonesia per month since the start of September.
Despite the return of normal trade, Mr Parker said his company would never make up what was lost when the Federal Government banned exports to Indonesia, leaving the company with 4600 cattle standing in pre-export yards and ships standing in harbour racking up exorbitant demurrage fees.
The North Australian Cattle Co will load the Sahiwal Express in Darwin for Indonesia, which has a capacity of approximately 3000 head.
While the wet season is setting in, each of the major exporters expects to send further shipments to Indonesia before the existing quarterly permit period expires on December 31.
A spokesperson for Wellard said the company would continue to ship out of the north right through the wet season.