Troublesome times

Livestock | 13th November 2023 | By Matt Dalgleish

Live Cattle Export Summary - September 2023

Total live cattle exports lifted nearly 11% during September 2023 to see 60,451 head transported offshore from Australia. This represents levels that are 21% under the five-year average seasonal pattern for this time in the year. Normally total flows in September would be nearer to 77,000 head, based upon the average levels seen exported in September over the last five years.

Average monthly volumes across the entire season have been lacklustre too. Over 2023 so far average live cattle export volumes are running 36% below the five-year seasonal pattern with a total of 50,351 head being shipped each month, on average this year versus the monthly average of around 80,000 head, based on the seasonal five-year trend.

A summary of the top trade destinations is outlined below.

Indonesia – Volumes exported to Indonesia continues to underwhelm with reports of cattle with any signs of lumps, bumps or skin lesions being turned down. Despite there being no evidence of lumpy skin disease in Australia there is a huge amount of scrutiny being placed on any cattle being exported to Indonesia presently, so the very low risk approach to trade is favouring only those animals with impeccable skin condition. September saw 22,836 head shipped, levels that are 43% under the five-year September average volumes. Volumes exported to Indonesia over the whole of 2023, so far, are running 37% under the five-year average seasonal trend.

Vietnam – Cattle flows to Vietnam from Australia eased 27% over September to just 10,163 head. Compared to the five-year September average volumes are nearly 27% below the average level. Expensive pricing in Australia in 2022 saw Vietnamese buyers favouring cheaper South American imported cattle but price declines in Australia in 2023 have seen trade volumes begin to lift. Compared to the 2022 trend current trade volumes are 118% higher, but compared to the five-year average pattern current trade levels are still 40% softer.

China – After a lull in trade over August cattle exports to China bounced back in September with 13,765 head reported shipped. This resurgent outcome has pushed the seasonal pattern for 2023 back above the average seasonal trend, based on the five-year average flows. Current volumes of live cattle trade to China sit 20% above the average September levels, but measuring the trade flows over the whole 2023 season shows that volumes are still running 38% below the five-year average pattern.

The Others – The live cattle trade from Australia to “all other destinations” saw volumes slip nearly 16% during September 2023, however it was coming off a reasonably high level in August. There were 13,687 head reported shipped over September, which is still nearly 24% above the five-year average levels for September.


  • Live export
  • Live cattle
  • Trade
  • Trade Issues