Buffalo breeders shipped to Malaysia in first live export for more than a decade
A shipment of 120 swamp heifers and five breeder buffalo bulls sourced from the Top End has departed for Malaysia for the first time in more than a decade.
The buffalo left Darwin Port on Friday and are destined for a research farm where they will be used to help develop the country’s herd.
Louise Bilato from the NT Buffalo Industry Council said the shipment was significant for the Top End industry as it is rare for breeder buffalo to be exported.
“This is quite a novel experience,” she said.
“I think there were some buffalo that went to [Malaysia] years ago, in the early 2000s, for breeding purposes,” she said.
“It’s a very positive thing for the Malaysian buffalo herd [and] we’re delighted with the opportunity to potentially expand the market for buffalo.”
Ms Bilato said there was a strong relationship between Australia and Malaysia when it comes to buffalo.
“The Northern Territory Government spent quite a bit of time assisting them to get their research facility off the ground in the 2000s and to look at improving their herd,” she said.
“That research facility will now distribute the Australian buffalo in the local community to increase production and boost meat supplies.”
Ms Bilato believes the inclusion of buffalo breeders from Australia will be significant for the local community.
“We know that buffalo are very good breeders and if the wider community is getting more buffalo to be used as part of their breeding program it’s got significant potential to feed the Sabar community,” she said.
“Buffalo have quite a long breeding lifecycle, so those young heifers will be in production for many years.”
Buffalo live export markets growing
The export of breeders to Malaysia follows several live export shipments of buffalo from the Northern Territory this year.
“This year we’ve already seen about 8,000 buffalo that have gone overseas. That’s a significant increase on the numbers from last year and certainly since the live export ban,” Ms Bilato said.
“Obviously there are a number of factors that are falling in favour of buffalo this year, one being the high price of cattle and the reduced availability of cattle.”
From January to the end of September, NT Department of Primary Industry figures showed 694 buffalo were exported to Indonesia, 2,969 to Vietnam, and 148 to Brunei.
Malaysia remained the biggest customer of live buffalo with 3,971 leaving Darwin Port.
Before the live export ban in 2011, up to 14,000 head of buffalo were exported out of the Territory to overseas markets per year.
“We would be thinking that 8,000 would be the minimum that goes off overseas next year,” Ms Bilato said.
“We would very much like to see the industry consolidate and see a closer working relationship with the Northern Land Council, the traditional owners, the producers, mustering teams and the ranger organisations to build a sustainable industry.”