Sheep exports to the Middle East
Requirements for live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer were changed in 2020 after a regulation impact statement (RIS) process.
A prohibition period was introduced under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Prohibition of Export of Sheep by Sea to Middle East—Northern Summer) Order 2020. The order came into force on 1 May 2020.
Exporters were also required to comply with the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export of Sheep by Sea to Middle East) Order 2018; the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Export of Sheep by Sea to Middle East—Northern Winter) Order 2018. These requirements were implemented in addition to those set out in the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL).
On 28 March 2021, the Export Control (Animals) Rules 2021, replaced those Orders.
The requirements aim to reduce the risk of heat stress in sheep to a very low level, while supporting a sustainable live sheep export trade.
Live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East are prohibited from leaving Australia between 1 June and 14 September.
Additional prohibition periods apply for Qatar and Oman because these destinations reach higher Wet Bulb Temperatures (WBTs) earlier, and WBTs in Qatar fall later, than for other destinations. This increases the period during which exported sheep are at risk of heat stress.
Departures from Australia are prohibited to:
- Qatar between 22 May and 22 September
- Oman between 8 May and 14 September.
To manage the risk of heat stress in sheep outside the prohibition periods, in addition:
- there can be no more than 2 ports of discharge for voyages traveling through the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea, north of latitude 11°N;
- arriving in the Middle East on or after 1 June in that year; or
- departing Australia between 15 and 30 September in that year
- sheep should be exported with the shortest wool or hair length possible and this must be not greater than 25mm for each animal as specified in ASEL.
- exported sheep must have a body condition score of 2 or more and less than 4, on a scale of 1 to 5. Details of this scoring system can be found in ASEL.
- all voyages must be monitored with automated environmental measurement devices and this monitoring reported to the department.
We conducted a comprehensive review of heat stress risks associated with the live sheep export trade in the Northern Hemisphere summer.
We considered information and feedback from:
- a RIS process, which included extensive stakeholder consultation
- Bureau of Meteorology data
- previous reviews including the McCarthy Review and the Heat Stress Risk Assessment (HSRA) Review
- animal welfare outcomes under 2019 Northern Hemisphere summer conditions
- voyage and independent observer reports
- meetings with animal welfare organisations, peak bodies, industry representatives and producers.
Read about the review process and submissions to previous consultations.
We are undertaking a formal review of the regulations for live sheep exports to or through the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer after the 2021 Northern Hemisphere summer.
This review will:
- consider voyage outcomes and the appropriateness of regulatory conditions
- give us the opportunity to review new science and research.
Frequently asked questions
- Read answers to some frequently asked questions.