Progressive Livestock Ltd - Live Export Statement - 9th September 2020 

Progressive Livestock are a nationwide dairy focused livestock agency with significant experience and exposure to the live cattle export trade between New Zealand and China.

We are devastated by the events surrounding the loss of the Livestock Gulf 1.

Our thoughts are very much with families and friends of the crew, the horrific circumstances the Livestock Gulf 1 found itself in last week are beyond the comprehension of all of us.

A full investigation is required to understand all the factors that have contributed to this disaster.

Animal welfare is at the core of our business as it is for the vast majority of New Zealand livestock farmers.

The loss of almost 6000 breeding heifers in a maritime tragedy leaves every person in the rural community in a state of shock and disbelief.

It is understandable that a number of questions are raised around New Zealand’s supply of live cattle to overseas markets.

The animal welfare issues that are consistently raised in the media by organisations such as SAFE appear to dominate the flow of information presented to the New Zealand public.

The information presented by SAFE is specifically designed to portrait the live cattle export industry as a barbaric activity with poor animal welfare outcomes.  

The live export of cattle from New Zealand is a heavily regulated activity; the Ministry of Primary Industries has ultimate over sight over the processes that are required to allow shipments to depart New Zealand.

Further to the pre departure requirements, MPI report on the outcome of each voyage, this information is publically available on the MPI website. 

Below is a summary of shipments delivered in the period from 2015 to July 2020.

50 shipments of live cattle have departed New Zealand (China has been the destination for 44 of the 50).

182,155 cattle have been shipped with 168 deaths recorded.

This represents a 0.09% mortality rate.

From April 2019 MPI have been reporting the post voyage mortality rate in the 30 day period post delivery, the shipments in this period were exclusively into China.

23 deaths were reported in this period.

The exceptionally low mortality rates indicate that the processes and protocols in place are protecting the welfare interests of the exported cattle.

The value of the cattle exported, reinforces the vested interest all participants involved with live cattle trade have in the welfare of the cattle exported.

The accumulated cost between the point of purchase of a breeding heifer from a New Zealand farmer and the delivery to a Chinese farming operation is significant.

Each heifer will have a value in China of between $3000 and $4000 NZD.

The primary function of this trade is to supply productive livestock to our overseas markets.

 The poor animal welfare outcomes groups such as SAFE portraits do not correlate with the economic realities.

In 2017 a delegation from Progressive Livestock visited two dairy operations in the Northern regions of Central China.

Both of these operations were medium to large scale dairy operations, they contained both New Zealand and Australian cattle. They were fully productive units with a combination of covered open air and indoor facilities, the standard and condition of the cattle was exceptional. There was no suggestion of any animal welfare issues.

Economic conditions and increasing environmental regulation is slowly decreasing the size of the national dairy herd.

Demand from China is providing a market for surplus cattle that are no longer required in the New Zealand industry.

The impact on the economy from this trade is significant.

Farmers are currently paid between $1500 and $1700 per head at the farm gate

In addition to this $500 to $600 per head of revenue is generated with the provision of services prior to shipping.

Transport operators, feed suppliers, procurement agencies, testing facilitators and quarantine facilities.

In the age of Covid- 19 revenue from this trade is important to farmers, services businesses and the New Zealand economy.

Progressive Livestock supports the New Zealand Government’s review of the live cattle export trade, from the perspective of continued improvement and fine tuning of protocols and processes.

Andrew Robins

Managing Director – Progressive Livestock Ltd

027 2275519 –