The federal government could change the way live sheep export licences are issued in the wake of shocking images of sheep overheating and dying in their own filth during a voyage to the Middle East.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says export companies must lift their game and hinted that changes will be made to the way live export licences are issued after Emanuel Exports had its export licence suspended in June, The West Australian reported on Wednesday.

Mr Littleproud said he was considering allowing licences to be issued before sheep boarded a ship to give confidence to exporters worried they may be hit with a court injunction from animal activists once sheep were loaded.