Cattle shipment third of year

The Gloucester Express in PrimePort Timaru last week loading live cattle. Photo: Chris Tobin
The Gloucester Express in PrimePort Timaru last week loading live cattle. Photo: Chris Tobin
It has been a quieter year for live cattle exports from New Zealand.

Last week, livestock carrier Gloucester Express loaded 3700 cattle at PrimePort Timaru, bound for China.

A Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman said they didn’t typically collect information on the breeds, but in this case were that it included Friesian heifers, Jersey heifers, Angus heifers and a small number of Angus bulls.

The cattle came from farms around the country.

Last week’s shipment was only the third from New Zealand this year. Two others left for China in April (3300 cattle) and in July (3678).

Last year a total of 27,295 cattle were exported in eight shipments, six of which were bound for China. There were 19 cattle deaths en route.

In 2016 there were 11 shipments, 10 to China carrying 40,221 cattle (23 mortalities).

In 2015 eight voyages carrying 21,219 cattle were made, five of them to China and there were 48 deaths.

Animals are preconditioned to dry pellet food before being exported and MPI vets inspect all animals which are cleared only when considered fit to travel.

Since 2008 livestock can only be exported for breeding.

World Animal Protection Campaign adviser, Christine Rose said live export for breeding was ultimately live export for slaughter and ‘‘the value to the New Zealand economy of live export animal shipments is minimal, and disproportionate to the suffering caused. There are also reputational costs to the New Zealand Government which can be seen to condone exporting animal ill-treatment offshore where animal welfare standards are low.

‘‘Live animal shipments undermine our own national standards.’’

-By Chris Tobin

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