NZ cattle shipped to an unknown fate

Another shipment of thousands of New Zealand cattle has left to go to a country with some of the weakest animal welfare laws in the world. It departed from Napier on 28 April on the Gudali Express bound for China.

We know MPI received a request to export 3200 cows to China, but the list of what we do not know is much longer:

  • How long will they be on the ship?
  • Where in China will they end up?
  • Where is the farm and how will they be transported to it?
  • What are conditions like on the farm where they will live?
  • When and how will they be killed?
  • What fate awaits their calves that are not wanted for dairy production?

The government has yet to release any of this information and it is likely some if the answers will never be known. However, the conditions in a promotional video from one of China’s dairy farms show that factory farming of dairy cows, where they are confined inside sheds in metal cubicles with concrete floors, is accepted practise.

Campaigns Officer and Policy Advisor Stephen Manson travelled to investigate this shipment of cows. “From seeing the cows in the paddocks before being loaded onto stock trucks, to being packed onto the ship, I am very concerned about the fate of these animals. It was a surprisingly small ship to be carrying over 3000 cows, and as I was looking at them, I reflected on how it might be the last time they eat fresh grass or feel the sun on their backs.”

The journey to China is fraught with risk. Just a week ago charges were laid against two companies in Australia responsible for cattle deaths in a shipment between Tasmania and mainland Australia. That journey was a lot shorter than the one to China.

The terrible conditions on live export vessels have been well documented. Huge numbers of animals are often crammed together on-board. When a shipment on an identical vessel, the Ganado Express, left for China at the end of last year they were jammed in with exactly the minimum amount of space allowed. Each cow had only 1.14 square metres for the entire journey - not much space for an animal of almost 300kg.

ALL live export of sheep and cattle, whether for breeding or slaughter needs to be banned.

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Friday 28 April