More than 35,000 sheep and 18,324 goats were exported by air in 2018-19 with the bulk going to Malaysia.
A total 35,778 sheep left the country by air during the financial year just ended with 31,682 for slaughter and 4096 for breeding.
The figures were contained in LiveCorp and Meat & Livestock Australia's 2019 sheep research, development and extension update.
By far the biggest air freight market for sheep and goats is Malaysia, mainly for processing. Malaysia imported 29,071 sheep and 13,563 goats.
Singapore and China are the next biggest markets with the latter importing mainly high-value breeding stock.
China imported 3366 head of goats and 2253 sheep. Singapore imported 3924 sheep and 35 goats.
The report said the livestock remain in their crates while being trucked to their destinations in Malaysia and then the pens are pulled apart and used for building materials.
It said air exports would likely remain an important part of the industry, particularly for valuable breeding stock because of extremely successful delivery rates, minimal handling and fast transit times.
An air shipment of livestock can arrive at their overseas destination within 24 hours of leaving their Australian farm.
Sheep are loaded from the truck at about 50 at a time into mainly two-tier wooden crates around two metres tall which are netted before being lifted onto the plan.
About 75 per cent of the sheep exported to Malaysia go on chartered flights.
Malaysian Airlines uses livestock to back-load after delivering other goods to Australia.
Around two flights a week carry 500 to 700 sheep and goats.
The story More than 35,000 sheep buckled up and left the country by air in 2018-19 first appeared on Farm Online.