With over 80 million people to feed, and little arable land to grow crops or raise livestock, Egypt is a major importer of food and agricultural products.
Both chilled meat products and live animal exports are required to meet Egypt's need for red meat protein, and Australia is one of many countries supplying both boxed product and live animals to the Egyptian market.
Once banned due to poor animal welfare standards in Egyptian abattoirs, the Australian live cattle export trade resumed in 2010 following the opening of a state-of-the-art facility that guarantees the well-being and humane treatment of Australian cattle.
All Australian live export cattle now arrive at the Port of Sokhna and enter into a closed system – an integrated port, feedlot and abattoir.
The closed system reaches all the way to the ship – via an 800 metre purpose-built walkway.
The feedlot holds 25,000 cattle. Each pen is 50 per cent shaded and the shade is aligned so that every part of the floor gets sun at some time during the day to keep it dry.
Cattle have constant access to cool, fresh water and are fed high quality feed twice per day.
Each animal exported from Australia is tracked through the feedlot and abattoir system through the
National Livestock Identification System, NLIS. All Australian cattle in Australia wear a unique tag in their ear and when they arrive at the feedlot in Sokhna the tags are scanned so they can be tracked through the system.
All the cattle are scanned onto the live export vessel, scanned into the feedlot on arrival, then scanned into the abattoir so that the Australian live export industry has a record that assures that the cattle are not going elsewhere and remain in the closed system at Sokhna .
When it's time for processing, the cattle are walked to the abattoir, where the equipment and practices are as good as those in Australia. The abattoir was built to qualify for EU accreditation.
In 2010 56,441 Australian cattle were exported to Egypt following the market recommencing, valued at A $ 48 million.
Indonesia was the largest market for Australian live export cattle in 2010, taking 520,987 head.
Turkey was also an important livestock export market for Australian cattle in 2010, taking over 45,000 cattle as well as 140,000 sheep. Prior to this new live export market opening, the Australian live export trade visit Turkey to inspect facilities that would have been receiving, transporting, housing and processing live animals from Australia.
Animal welfare specialists were also present in Turkey for the arrival of the first shipments of live sheep exports and live cattle exports from Australia. The cattle going to this market have been sourced from southern Western Australia as the Turkish market prefers Bos Taurus cattle.
Demand for live export cattle from other Middle Eastern markets was also strong, with Israel taking 43,346 head, Jordan taking 19,257 head, Saudi Arabia 16,501 head and Qatar 2,561 head.
Western Australia exported the most cattle in 2010, with 369,961 valued at $ A252 million, followed by the Northern Territory with 292,305 cattle exported valued at $ A183 million.
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