THE fast pace of the resurgence in live cattle exports from northern Australia to Indonesia has shaken up shipping forecasts with firming expectations that up to 200,000 post-ban cattle will be shipped by the end of the year.
Supply chain and shipping operator, Wellard Rural Exports forecasts its share of the renewed trade will be up to 90,000 cattle, depending on the shipping schedules and the implementation of Australian protocols in Indonesian abattoirs and feedlots.
Queensland Country Life Editor Mark Phelps joined a Wellards shipment of 6810 cattle aboard the Ocean Swagman, which departed Darwin on Sunday. He will monitor the four-day voyage to Jakarta, follow the new supply chain into Indonesia and report on the procedures and personnel behind the new trade.
During loading at Darwin, Wellard’s logistics manager Gemma Lomax (pictured) said the complex process required that the onshore quarantine yards maintain a ready stream of trucks to load.
"Loading cattle onto trucks at the quarantine marshalling yards takes a lot longer than unloading the trucks onto the ship," Gemma said.
"So we do our calculations making sure that happens. Ideally we want to load at about 550 head an hour."
Triple roadtrains, each carrying 180 to 200 cattle depending on the weight of individual animals, were used in Darwin to supply the Ocean Swagman with a full load of 6810 head.
But Gemma’s job isn't limited to transport. The 25 year old joined the live export industry equipped with a Degree in Agriculture from Roseworthy, SA. On each journey, she is also responsible for ensuring quarantine requirements are met, that AQIS paperwork is completed, stevedoring labour is organised, and that the all-important pelletised fodder is loaded.
Under the new export arrangements, traceability systems are designed to track animal movement,
assuring that Australian cattle are handled and processed only through an approved supply chain.
To support the traceability systems in Indonesia, Wellard has restricted its shipments of cattle to those with NLIS electronic tags.
Gemma Lomax is now responsible for reconciling those electronic tags.
"We know pretty well two to three weeks out when the ship will arrive," Gemma said.
"There is an update every day, so it is usually locked in four to five days out, barring unforeseen circumstances."
Those unforeseen circumstances can include securing a berth on the wharf to load the cattle or access to a harbour pilot.
Feeder steers heading to Indonesia are required to stay in quarantine yards for 24 hours. Breeders require 14 days.
Throughout the 2½ month suspension, Australian exporters have teamed up with their
Indonesian clients to assist them to meet the new guidelines.