Cattle keeps port moo-ving

Live export boost in Townsville and Karumba


The MV Finola gets ready to dock at the Karumba Port.

The MV Finola gets ready to dock at the Karumba Port.

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Five live export ships are set to leave Townsville bound for Asia in the next week.

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LIVE export is experiencing a spike in North Queensland, with five cattle shipments scheduled to leave the Port of Townsville in the next week alone.

It will be the busiest period for live export from the port in over 2.5 years, with the last boom period falling in early 2016.

The shipments will include cattle sourced from across Queensland and are destined for the Asian market including Vietnam and Indonesia.

It comes after a second boat load of cattle left Karumba last week, after live export resumed in late June following an 11 month break while a deal was struck to dredge the channel.

Elders livestock manager Tom Kennedy it was a busy time for live export and demand had been strong.

“It is busy at the moment, it’s probably one of the busiest months since 2016, in January or February,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Demand has been strong, and the prices are meeting the graziers requirements as well as being to a point where it is sustainable for the exporters.

“It’s the way the stars have aligned, but we have been saying this part of Australia is one of the few places to get good heavy bullocks to Vietnam.”

The first ship, the Ganado Express, will set sail today (Thursday), with about 2500 steers bound for north Vietnam. The Ocean Drover will also be in dock to load 18,000 feeder cattle bound for Indonesia.

The Greyman Express is scheduled to dock on Sunday to load roughly 2200 slaughters going to north Vietnam, while the next day the Bison Express will load 2000 slaughters for the south of Vietnam.

Another 7000 feeders will board the Dareen the following Wednesday destined for Indonesia.

Mr Kennedy said cattle had been drawn from all over Queensland, from as far south as Jundah and Rockhampton, to the Far North.

Interest remains from China following the first shipment to the country from Townsville in January, with another shipment likely toward the end of October.

“Exporters all seem to be having good shipments, welfare is being well and truly addressed on their parts and we hope our representatives in government get behind this industry which is vital to Northern Australia,” Mr Kennedy said.

Karumba Live Export manager, Dean Bradford, said about 1900 head were loaded on to the MV Finola bound for Indonesia last Friday.

Mr Bradford said the Brahman’s had been drawn from across the region and producers were embracing the resumption of the industry.

“We’re getting good feedback and good support, a lot of stations are more than will to send them out here,” Mr Bradford said.

He said they were planning for the next shipment in early September and hoped to increase output to two boats a month.

Cattle Council of Australia president Howard Smith said they were strong advocates for live export for the diversity it brought to the industry.

Mr Smith said it was particularly important during times of drought when processors were inundated with animals.

“It is beneficial when two thirds of the state is in drought, to give another outlet for producers to sell their cattle,” Mr Howard said.

“It is positive news to see boats gone out of Karumba, and we acknowledge that Indonesia is a very important market.

“We are certainly a strong advocate that we have a mix of markets, beef is a significant portion of what we turn off live, it is very important, particularly in the North.”

​South East Asian Livestock Services principal John Kaus said the demand for cattle into South East Asia, particularly Indonesia had returned.

“The good thing about Karumba is that some boats have just finished their first round and are starting on their second, but there’s still a reasonable source of cattle to the south, east and west of Karumba, comparable to the likes of Darwin and even Townsville,” Mr Kaus said.

“It’s a good opportunity for the producers to supply into Karumba.”

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