The largest consignment of live export cattle to leave Australia in over a month departed from Fremantle this week headed for Egypt.
Wellard Rural Exports’ MV Ocean Shearer loaded 9239 cattle in Broome before disembarking on Tuesday night.
The MV Ocean Shearer is normally deployed on the shuttle trade to Indonesia at this time of year.
A Wellard spokesman said the order for Egypt had enabled the exporting and shipping company to keep the vessel operating while work to re-commence its export trade to Indonesia was underway.
Beef Central understands feeder steers were purchased for 160c/kg for the Egypt order, which compares to the 200c/kg plus live export steers were commanding before the Federal Government closed the Indonesian trade on June 7 following public outrage over images of animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs.
Egypt is a higher cost market for Australian exporters to service than Indonesia, involving a long-haul 16-20 day sea voyage compared to the 4-5 day run to Indonesia. It is also more price sensitive, typically paying less on average for cattle than Indonesia.
The Shearer has a capacity of about 24,000 cattle. In the time it will take to travel back and forth to Egypt with less than 10,000 cattle, the Shearer would normally have completed three full-capacity runs to Indonesia under normal circumstances at this time of year.
Wellard said the remaining boats in its fleet were fully utilised in other trades. Some were dedicated to other markets prior to the Indonesian suspension, and others had been deployed to alternative markets as a result of the ban.
Egypt was Australia’s third largest market for live cattle in 2010, taking 56,441 head or 6.5pc of total live cattle exports. Most of those exports occurred on an ad hoc basis across four months of the year.
The second largest import of Australian cattle last year was China, which took 57,418 head of dairy cattle or 6.6pc of total Australian cattle exports, while Indonesia was the largest market by far, taking 521,002 head or 59.5pc.
The consignment will be delivered to the closed handling system at the Egyptian port of Sokhna.