LIVESTOCK exporter Wellard Rural Exports and its part-owned shipping operator, Siba Ships, based in Italy, have announced a $US250 million ($A280m) order for two new state-of-the-art livestock carriers. The vessels will be built in Croatia and are scheduled to enter service in 2011. The 180-metre long, nine-deck high livestock carriers will be designed to focus on best animal welfare practices and will be capable of transporting 17,000 cattle or 75,000 sheep. The two new ships will have similar design to Siba’s flagship carrier, MV Becrux, with modifications to improve operating efficiency and animal welfare. The investment adds to the previously announced $US80 million investment in two smaller livestock carriers, the first of which is due to be launched in late 2008 or early 2009. Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald said the new vessels would provide extra shipping capacity and raise the benchmark for on-board, animal welfare standards. The WA Farmers Federation welcomed the investment, saying it highlighted the importance of the live export industry to Australia. Wellard has priority access to a fleet of livestock carriers through its association with Siba Ships, and currently has a fleet of three livestock carriers operating out of WA.
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