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End the cruel live export trade

Our work Animals in Aotearoa End the cruel live export trade

The cruel live export trade

New Zealanders take pride in valuing animal welfare. In New Zealand, our law states that animals are sentient. Because animals are individuals able to feel emotions such as pain and joy, we have standards for how they should be treated.

In 2003, we achieved a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter. However, loopholes in the law mean that millions of our animals are still being sent overseas alive. It is time to close the loopholes and end live export for good.  

It’s not just cows who are suffering. A baby chick is selected for export at only one day old. Once she hatches from her egg she expects to see her mother. Instead, she is placed in a box. With thousands of other chicks, she is then flown overseas where she is taken to a factory farm – she is barely two days old.

After her time in a factory farm she may be slaughtered using standards lower than those in New Zealand. Most countries that New Zealand exports farmed animals to do not require stunning before slaughter. This means that New Zealand animals sent overseas may have their throats slit while they are still alive.

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Animals need an independent body that enforces animal welfare.

The Ministry for Primary Industries Live Export Review

Together, we have an opportunity to close the door on the cruel live export trade – for good. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is currently reviewing the live export of cows, sheep, goats and deer. MPI is considering four options that range from a tightening of legislation to a total ban.

Cows selected for live export are usually taken from green pastures in New Zealand. They are sometimes shipped pregnant, confined to small pens. They travel across the Pacific Ocean, where they can be thrown about in rough seas. Once the journey is over, they may be taken to concrete factory farms to give birth, where they are then kept for years to be milked.

In this review, MPI is ignoring the millions of day-old chicks exported alive every year. Before they even hatch, they are selected for bleak, uncertain futures. The day-old chicks likely are taken to farms that cram the birds into small cages that would be illegal in New Zealand.

We need to protect all animals.

SAFE’s petition

SAFE launched a petition to end live export after finding out about the harrowing animal welfare and human disaster in Sri Lanka. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our volunteers and staff we collected over 30,000 signatures.
We presented our petition to Parliament on the sixteenth anniversary of the Cormo Express disaster, when six thousand sheep died on board a live export ship. This loss of life shocked New Zealand and the world and led the then Labour Government to ban the live export of cows, sheep, goats and deer for slaughter.

Live export ships

This year, nine live export ships have left our shores, each filled with thousands of New Zealand animals. There are significant risks to the welfare of farmed animals 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 these animals, with some suffering injuries and others dying on board.
Cows selected for live export are usually taken from green pastures in New Zealand. They are sometimes shipped pregnant, confined to small pens. They travel across the Pacific Ocean, where they can be thrown about in rough seas. Once the journey is over, they may be taken to concrete factory farms to give birth, where they are then kept for years to be milked.

Conditions overseas 

Animal exports can cross many territorial boundaries and our Government admits it has no power to enforce New Zealand welfare standards for animals taken overseas. 

In February 2019, the European Union voted to ban all live exports of animals to countries that do not meet the EU’s animal welfare transport standards.

Little is known about where New Zealand animals end up and what standard of care they receive once they disembark live export ships or planes. In the 2019 exposé in Sri Lanka, where hundreds of cows were found sick and dying, it was revealed that the lives of animals after they have been exported can involve high levels of suffering.

The Sri Lankan farmers were sold a dream by Australian live export corporation Wellard, and these farmers are now struggling to keep the animals alive. The farmers say they haven’t received the vital support they were promised.

New Zealand animals are put at risk when they are exported to countries with lower animal welfare, transport and slaughter standards than we have in New Zealand.

Take Action

Animals need an independent body that enforces animal welfare.

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