Sheep exports to the Middle East
Requirements for live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer have changed.
The new requirements reduce the risk of heat stress in sheep to a very low level, while supporting a sustainable live sheep export trade.
These requirements are in addition to those set out in the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) (version 2.3).
Live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East are prohibited from leaving Australia from 1 June to 14 September.
The new requirement is confirmed under the Australian Meat and Live-stock Industry (Prohibition of Export of Sheep by Sea to Middle East—Northern Summer) Order 2020.
The order comes into force on 1 May 2020 and will remain in place until it is no longer required.
There is an increased risk of heat stress outside the general 3.5 month prohibition for Qatar and Oman.
Additional prohibition periods apply. Departures from Australia are prohibited:
- to Qatar from 22 May to 22 September
- to Oman from 8 May to 14 September.
These requirements are based on an analysis of climate data from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Qatar and Oman reach higher Wet Bulb Temperatures (WBTs) earlier and WBTs in Qatar fall later than for other destinations.
To manage the risk of heat stress in sheep outside the prohibition period, in addition:
- there will be no more than 2 ports of discharge for voyages traveling through the Arabian Sea, or the Red Sea, north of latitude 11°N during June or departing Australia between 15 and 30 September.
- sheep should be exported with the shortest wool length possible and this must be not greater than 25mm for each animal
- 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 (version 2.3).
- all voyages must be monitored with automated environmental measurement devices and this monitoring reported to the department.
We conducted a comprehensive review of the live sheep export trade.
We considered information and feedback from:
- a regulation impact statement (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 will continue to review these requirements.
We will undertake:
- an informal review after the 2020 Northern Hemisphere summer
- a formal review after the 2021 Northern Hemisphere summer.
These reviews 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.