Like most New Zealand cows, she starts her life on a grassy paddock. If she is selected for live export she leaves her familiar herd behind and begins a harrowing journey.
She is fed a diet of grain to try to get her used to the food she will be given on board the ship. The journey from New Zealand can take weeks. She is trapped, pregnant, inside a pen. Sometimes the waves throw her around the pen and cause her to get seasick.
The journey is over and she is moved to a concrete indoor factory farm. She is trapped here for years, forced to have calf after calf, each of them taken away from her. When she no longer produces large quantities of milk, she will be killed at the slaughterhouse, likely while fully conscious.
She deserves the same level of care as other animals in New Zealand.
In New Zealand, we have standards for how we expect all animals to be treated. But when we export animals overseas we expose them to unknown horrors. When we export our farmed animals to countries with lower standards we are abandoning them to unnecessary suffering. New Zealand law is being undermined.
In 2018, New Zealand exported a total of 2,820,320 live farmed animals, the majority being day-old chicks. Before they even hatch, these babies are selected for bleak, uncertain futures. The day-old chicks are taken to farms that cram the birds into small cages in a way that would be illegal in New Zealand. Once they are no longer profitably laying eggs, they are slaughtered. Others are only kept alive for a few short weeks in a barren shed until they are killed for meat.
Although New Zealand does not export animals for slaughter, the animals we do export for breeding and being reared on farm will be killed, weeks, months and even years after they leave New Zealand.
Most countries that New Zealand exports farmed animals to do not require stunning before slaughter. This means that after their time in a factory farm overseas, New Zealand animals may have their throats slit while they are still alive. At least one country we export to does not allow euthanasia, meaning sick animals may spend days or weeks slowly dying.
Ask our Government to prohibit the live export of farmed animals to countries that have lower animal welfare, transport and slaughter standards than New Zealand.
According to the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2018, live animal exports from New Zealand included over 2.8 million day-old chicks, over 17,000 cattle, and small numbers of other farmed animals including pigs.
In 2002, a terrible disaster on board an Australian live export ship, resulting in the death of 5,000 sheep, shocked Kiwis and the world. The then Labour Government banned the live export of animals for slaughter the following year. This ban has remained strong for cows, deer, sheep and goats exported for slaughter, but millions of live farmed animals are still exported annually from New Zealand to be raised on factory farms, used for breeding and eventually slaughtered.
In the 2019 exposé in Sri Lanka, where hundreds of cows were found sick and dying, it was revealed that the life of animals after they have been exported can involve high levels of suffering. Animal exports can cross many territorial boundaries and it is impossible for a Government to ensure a high standard of welfare for every animal that leaves their country.
There are significant risks to the welfare of farmed animals who are transported on board ships, especially over long distances. The unnatural diet, rough seas, high stocking densities and heat stress all have a negative effect on the welfare of the animals exported, with some suffering from injury and others dying on board.
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