A record 1.29 million live cattle were exported from Australia last year, according to figures released by Meat and Liverstock Australia (MLA).
This was 52 percent more than the previous year and 33 percent above the previous 2002 record.
The livestock trade in 2014 was valued at $1.23 billion, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Strong demand from SE Asia, especially Indonesia and Vietnam, largely contributed to the big spike in exports during the year.
And prices improved despite increasing supplies, the MLA report showed.
Light steers shipped from Darwin to Indonesia averaged $2.21/kg in 2014, up 25 percent year-on-year and 16 percent above the five-year average.
Exports to Indonesia were strong, reaching over 730,000 head – up 61 percent on 2013, but below the 2009 high of 773,000 head.
Exports to Vietnam grew rapidly, from 67,000 head in 2013 to 182,000 head in 2014, and shipments to China, primarily dairy cattle, increased 77 percent to nearly 118,000 head.
Increase in sheep exports
Asia remains the primary market for Australian live cattle, taking 87 percent of shipments in 2014, while the Middle East shrunk year-on-year from 16 percent to 9 percent. Israel, the primary market, decreased 20 percent from 2013 levels to 78,000 head.
While Australian live sheep exports last year increased 16 percent year-on-year to 2.3 million head (worth $235 million), shipments were still well below levels registered in the 1990s and early 2000s.
According to MLA, from 1990 to 1999, on average, Australia exported almost 5 million head each year. Exports peaked in 2001 at 6.8 million head (worth $363 million).
During 2014, 98 percent of live sheep exports went to the Middle East, predominantly destined for Kuwait (745,000 head), Qatar (539,000 head), Jordan (337,000 head), Bahrain (275,000 head) and the UAE (118,000 head).