MUSCAT, AUGUST 26 – A large shipment of Australian livestock is due to arrive at Mina Sultan Qaboos on Sunday, helping ensure the abundant availability of live animals ahead of the Eid al Adha festival starting later this week.
The consignment, comprising 15,500 head of Australian sheep, will arrive on board the recently launched livestock carrier, Yangtze Harmony, an official representing Al Batna Livestock, one of the Sultanate’s oldest and largest livestock distributors, said.
“This shipment has been timed to ensure that the Omani market is suitably replenished ahead of the Eid al Adha holiday,” the representative said. “This consignment will go a long way in meeting an anticipated surge in demand over the festival, as well as ease any concerns about a spike in retail prices during this crucial holiday,” he told Observer.
Given the importance of live animals for the sacrificial slaughter at the heart of Eid of Adha, prices are expected to be capped by the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP), he explained.
“Our retail price, which will be below this cap, will be determined once we examine the shipment, and assess the weight and condition of the animals, and so on. But we anticipate a 10–15 per cent increase in the average price this year, keeping in view the rising cost of livestock imports generally, higher shipping costs, the growing demand for Australian livestock, and other factors.”
Launched in March this year, the Yangtze Harmony made its maiden voyage the following month with a shipment of Australian livestock to the Sultanate. The vessel, owned by Chinese consortium Sino Marine, is expected to be a key transporter of Australian live animals to the Omani market going forward.
Unloading operations will commence as soon as the vessel docks at Mina Sultan Qaboos, a process likely to take between 15–20 hours, according to the company official. After veterinary checks, the animals will be loaded into special livestock transporters to holding pens located on the outskirts of the capital region.
Thereafter, the animals will be supplied to approved abattoirs and dealers that are certified to operate under guidelines set by the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) introduced by Australian exporters to help entrench international animal welfare standards in distribution networks.
Under Australian livestock export regulations, animal handling and slaughter in the recipient country must necessarily conform to World Organisation for Animal Health standards.
While the demand for Australian sheep is still strong in Oman, the uptake of Somali goats continues to grow, according to the representative. “It’s simply a matter of customer choice: Somali goats are not only cheaper by half, but they also weigh proportionately less. So, depending upon the size of the household and their specific requirements, customers choose between Australian live animals and Somali goats,” he said.