Australia's buffalo trade growing with large numbers exported to Vietnam
Figures released yesterday by the NT Department of Primary Industry show the year was also Darwin Port's second-biggest on record for live cattle exports.
A small number of buffalo were shipped to Brunei (625 head), but the majority were sent to Vietnam (4,468 head), which is a market expected to grow even further in 2016.
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AUDIO: Michael Swart expects 2016 to be a big year for the buffalo industry (ABC Rural)
Michael Swart from the NT Buffalo Industry Council said despite a slow start and a lag towards the end of the year, shipments for slaughter-ready buffalo were strong.
"We haven't had too many years better than that, that's for sure," he said.
"We probably could have seen a few more go in November and December, but we're very happy with 5,000."
Mr Swart said he expected buffalo exports to increase even further over the coming 12 months.
"I think we'll see one or two extra players in the buffalo-buying market so hopefully that'll bring a bit more competition," he said.
"Last year it was predominantly SEALS (South East Asian Livestock Services) doing the exporting, but this year we could possibly see another two [exporters involved]."
While no slaughter-ready buffalo were sent to Indonesia in 2015, Mr Swart said there was strong demand for breeders.
"The NT Government recently gifted riverine buffalo bulls and hopefully with that will go a shipment of breeding buffalo cows," he said.
"As part of their self-sufficiency policy, we could see more buffalo breeders sent that way."
Mr Swart said there were positive signs in the domestic market for buffalo as well, with a couple of trial consignments to an abattoir in Victoria going well late last year.
He said the industry was still hopeful the AACo abattoir near Darwin would agree to process buffalo.
According to the NT Department of Primary Industry, the NT's buffalo export trade peaked in 2006 when 7,748 buffalo were shipped from Darwin, mostly to Malaysia.