After being sold to Kuwait Livestock Transport & Trading (KLTT) in March, the former Wellard livestock carrier Ocean Shearer has completed her first voyage - one that KLTT says delivered a record animal welfare performance.
KLTT’s Perth based subsidiary RETWA loaded 60,183 sheep and 910 cattle on to the renamed vessel, Al Kuwait, in Fremantle in mid-April. After an 18-day voyage to the Gulf ports of Oman, Kuwait and Qatar, the company says 62 sheep (0.103 percent) died.
The Australian Government Accredited Veterinarian (AAV) reported that mortalities were not related to the voyage, vessel conditions or heat stress, and the voyage mortality rate is the lowest on company record.
There were 58 sheep isolated and treated in hospital pens during the voyage for various aliments. All but two of the hospital cases made a full recovery and were discharged in good health. The AAV reported feed consumption was robust throughout the voyage and never waivered. This is a clear indication the sheep were in an ongoing state of comfort, says RETWA.
Ocean Shearer is the world’s largest purpose-built livestock carrier, a record previously held by sister ship, Ocean Drover. She was officially delivered to Wellard by COSCO in April 2016.
KLTT acknowledged the new vessel’s modern design and ventilation in helping deliver good animal welfare in addition to the careful selection and purchase, preparation of livestock, and onboard management practices. Sister vessel Al Messilah recently had ventilation upgrades, and the consignment currently on the water is also reporting excellent animal welfare outcomes. “Our company and our 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,” said Osama Boodai, Chief Executive Officer of KLTT.
RETWA says it continues to improve systems across the supply chain with increased monitoring and reporting at every stage. The Al Kuwait is currently returning back to Fremantle to load a consignment at the end of May, before returning to Gulf countries of Kuwait and UAE.
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. The recent regulatory decisions on live sheep exports by the Australian government are disappointing to KLTT and RETWA. “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,” said Boodai.
KLTT is currently operating three vessels predominantly from Australia, but the company is expanding their footprint by sourcing livestock from South Africa, Eastern Europe and other markets.