Indonesia has temporarily suspended the export of live cattle from a facility in the northern territory of Australia.

The suspension follows the confirmed mortalities on-board the Brahman Express, a livestock ship that left the port city of Darwin to travel with cattle to Indonesia, a six-day trip.

The ship reached the port of Belawan in Indonesia on Saturday, March 22, when some of the cattle on board were discovered dead.

Australia has received confirmation from the Indonesian authorities that the export of live cattle from a particular registered establishment in the northern territory has been temporarily suspended, pending further investigations to determine the cause of the incident.

Precautionary has returned negative results for lumpy skin disease and foot and mouth disease, confirming that there is no evidence of an exotic disease.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry continues to investigate the cause of the livestock mortalities. Clinical signs present in the cattle are consistent with botulism.

The department has said botulism in cattle “is most often caused by the cattle eating a toxin produced by bacteria in contaminated feed.

“It is not a contagious or exotic disease and is not a risk to the Australian herd or to human health.”

The department added that detecting botulism through tests “is often difficult, owing to the low amounts of toxin present in the bloodstream of affected cattle”.

Testing undertaken at the northern territory government’s Berrimah veterinary laboratory has excluded bovine ephemeral fever and tick fever as possible causes of mortality.

A statement from the department said: “Australia is confident that there is no evidence of an exotic disease, and our animal health status remains unchanged”.

The organisation ‘Stop Live Exports’ has said “more than 100 Australian cattle have died on board the Brahman Express.

“If the cause of the deaths is botulism it will be the first time in live export history that it’s been recorded as the cause of a high mortality voyage,” the organisation added.

Prior to departure on March 15, the department undertook pre-export inspections to ensure that the livestock met requirements under the Export Control Act 2020 and importing-country requirements.

Australia remains free of exotic animal diseases such as lumpy skin disease and foot and mouth disease.