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'Live' cattle exports a death sentence for cows

31 May, 2004

'Live' cattle exports a death sentence for cows

Green MP Sue Kedgley today called on the Government to ban the trade in live cattle exports for slaughter rather than devising a wafer-thin set of regulations designed more for public relations purposes than any alleviation in animal suffering.

Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Animal Welfare, said that MAF's newly-announced cattle export standards would have done nothing to prevent the 110 cattle from dying on the horrific journey to Mexico last year, where a total of 110 cattle from a shipment of 720 had either died or had to be destroyed.

Ms Kedgley also pointed out that the trade breached the Animal Welfare Act.

"Exporting live cattle for slaughter, causing them to endure weeks of suffering confined in stalls on ships, is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act which stipulates that humans must not cause animals to suffer," said Ms Kedgley. "As such, any trade originating in New Zealand should be prohibited.

"Humans suffer when we travel 10 hours by plane, barely able to move. Imagine what cattle must experience when they are confined in pens on open decks for weeks on end where they barely have enough room to turn around.

"MAF is trying to justify this cruel trade by releasing new standards which clearly have been designed for public relations purposes rather than to alleviate the suffering of cattle in any significant way. There is not even a requirement to ensure a trained veterinarian accompanies any live cattle shipment.

"Requiring a shipper to report the number and reasons for any deaths during a journey, as the new standard stipulates, does absolutely nothing to improve the conditions cattle must endure. And, allowing cattle that are six months pregnant to be exported is, quite frankly, barbaric."

Ms Kedgley said she was horrified to learn that the 10,000 cattle New Zealand exports on average each year - in stalls no bigger than 2 square metres - has skyrocketed recently, with 30,000 cattle sent to China for breeding and milk production over the past few months.

"Most New Zealanders have no idea that this cruel trade is taking place," she said. "If they did, and knew the conditions these animals had to endure, there would be a public outrage."

ENDS

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