West end town of a dead end world

Livestock | 1st July 2024 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

Monthly sheep transfers from Western Australia to the eastern states have been released to the end of May 2024 and it shows some solid volumes continue to exit the west. January to May 2024 have seen a total of 673,571 head of sheep & lamb head across the Nullarbor to the eastern states and the monthly volumes have reached a peak of 165,706 in May alone. Compared to 2023 season to the end of May the current flows are running 458% higher, yes you read that right!

The previous two very strong years for transport east was 2020 and 2021. However, volumes in 2024 to the end of May have almost eclipsed the total annual flows seen in 2021 of 677,880 head. Compared to 2020 from January to end of May there were 904,427 head sent to the east, so the current season is running about 25% under the record highest year for transport of sheep west to east.


An interesting quote taken from Hansard at the recent parliamentary enquiry into the phaseout of the live sheep trade from Dr Melanie Latter from the Australian Veterinary Association was that the AVA “urge that by May 1 2008 WA processing capacity should be such that long distance road trucking is not necessary”.

Clearly, one of the next targets for animal activists could be long haul transport of livestock by road. I’m not convinced an eastern turnoff option for WA producers will always be there to act as a pressure release when the WA season turns unfavourable and the WA processor capacity is unable to take any more sheep for turnoff. Where do the sheep go then without live export as another option? Is it a pit in the back paddock?


  • Sheep
  • Live Sheep
  • Live export
  • Transport