MIDDLE East importer Kuwait Livestock Transport & Trading has reported zero cattle deaths and sheep mortality of 0.1 percent during the first voyage of its new vessel the MV Al Kuwait, despite wet bulb temperatures reaching up to 31 degrees Celsius.
KLTT’s Perth-based subsidiary Rural Export and Trading (WA) Pty Ltd (RETWA) loaded 60,183 sheep and 910 cattle on the MV Al Kuwait in Fremantle in mid-April before it sailed for the Gulf ports of Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.
After the 18-day voyage with three ports of discharge the voyage delivery success rate of 99.9pc for sheep and 100pc for cattle was achieved.
MV Al Kuwait is the world’s biggest purpose-built livestock vessel, formerly known as MV Ocean Shearer, and was bought by KLTT for $US53 million (A$77m) from Wellard. The 189.5 metre-long single tiered nine-deck vessel was built in 2016 and has the capacity to carry 20,000 cattle or 75,000 sheep, or a combination of both. The vessel was previously used mostly for cattle shipments, apart from one sheep shipment for KLTT earlier this year while still owned by Wellard.
KLTT said the vessel has delivered a record animal welfare performance on its first voyage under company ownership, with 62 sheep (0.103pc) dying during the voyage from various causes and no cattle deaths.
The company said the voyage’s mortality rate is its lowest on company record and that the Australian Government accredited veterinarian (AAV) reported the mortalities were not related to the voyage, vessel conditions or heat stress. There were 58 sheep isolated and treated in hospital pens during the voyage for various ailments and 56 made a full recovery and were discharged in good health.
KLTT said the AAV also reported feed consumption was robust throughout the voyage and never wavered. This is a clear indication the sheep were in an ongoing state of comfort, KLTT said.
The company has acknowledged the new vessel’s modern design and ventilation in helping deliver excellent results in addition to the careful selection and purchase, preparation of livestock, and on-board management practices.
Sister vessel MV Al Messilah has recently had ventilation upgrades and the consignment currently on the water, which left Fremantle on April 30, is also reporting excellent animal welfare outcomes, KLTT said.
KLTT chief executive officer Osama Boodai said the company and its clients are very impressed with the quality of sheep discharged at each port from recent shipments.
“This has been critical to food security in our region,” he said.
However, both companies said the recent regulatory decisions on live sheep exports by the Australian government were disappointing. Live sheep exports to the Middle East will stop as of June 1 with the commencement of the summer moratorium preventing shipments from leaving Australia until the trade resumes in mid-September.
“Animal welfare is part of good business and has always been a company focus with significant investments in the vessel fleet, feedlot infrastructure and abattoirs which are world class,” Mr Boodai said.
RETWA said it continues to improve systems across the supply chain with increased monitoring and reporting at every stage.
“Western Australian producers, buyers, agents and our livestock supplier oversight in selecting quality livestock and removing animals not suitable for the journey is critical to successful consignments,” RETWA managing director Michael Gordon said.
“The quarantine facility staff take great pride in presenting well prepared sheep that meet our customer requirements.”
Mr Gordon said the highest wet bulb temperature recorded during the voyage on one deck was 31 degrees on a number of occasions while in the Middle East. He said more information will be available when the data logger for the voyage becomes available. The independent observer report for the voyage is not yet available.
MV Al Kuwait vessel is currently returning back to Fremantle to load a consignment at the end of May, before returning to Gulf countries of Kuwait and UAE.
Mr Gordon said there is very high demand for sheep in the Middle East currently and limited availability of chilled product via airfreight due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
RETWA said the lack of international flights into the Middle East region since the world wide outbreak of COVID-19 and the inability of the markets to be replenished with a range of fresh food stuffs including fresh meat has seen a greater recognition of the ability for sea transport to deliver live animals to these markets.
KLTT is currently operating three vessels predominantly from Australia and said it is having difficulty meeting the demand from the markets and customers.
KLTT said it will continue to invest in the live animal export supply chain internationally and is expanding its footprint beyond the long-term relationship with Australia by sourcing livestock from South Africa, eastern Europe and other markets.