Latest live export shipment shocks New Zealanders

Over 5000 New Zealand cows are being shipped to China this week to be used in the dairy industry. Staff from SAFE’s Wellington office drove to the port to witness the ship arriving and the loading of the animals, where they took photos.

Departing from Napier, the animals have been loaded onto the ‘Awassi Express’ for the journey. This boat has the same owner, Sheik Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf, as the Cormo Express, a disastrous shipment on board which 5000 animals died in 2003 and led to the banning of live export for slaughter in New Zealand the following year. Al-Khalaf also owns the farm in the Saudi desert where nearly 900 lambs died, that were born of the sheep exported from New Zealand in 2015.

No information has been made public about the conditions the cows will end up living in. What we do know, is that they will be slaughtered once they are no longer generating profit for their new owners, which makes a mockery of New Zealand’s ban on live export for slaughter. China has no animal welfare laws, meaning there will be nothing preventing these cows being killed in the worst possible manner while fully conscious. The fate, and treatment of, any male calves that are born is another question that has not been answered.

Industrial dairy farms with thousands of cows are commonly used for New Zealand cattle going to China. They will likely spend the rest of their lives indoors, on concrete floors, never to eat fresh grass again. Often cows that are shipped to China are pregnant when they travel, further complicating their welfare on the journey.

SAFE’s Hans Kriek says "These animals will be slaughtered at the end of their productive life. They will be slaughtered, for instance, without stunning as is required in New Zealand. We are sending our animals to countries that may well kill them in a way that would be illegal in New Zealand - and you could go to jail if you did it here."

The journey itself, the treatment in the destination country, and the end fate for the animals are all of major concern. Together they make it clear New Zealand should not be involved in the live export trade. It is time that the current ban on live export of livestock for slaughter is updated to ban all live export.

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1 February 2017