Live Export – One Of The Cruellest Things We Can Do To Animals

Millions of animals are live exported on ships every year,  especially cattle and sheep.  They spend weeks travelling, often forced to remain standing the entire voyage; even if they could find the space, to attempt to lie down could mean being trampled or smothered. Most of the ships are open, which leaves animals exposed to intense cold, extreme heat, and being doused by sea water.  Like us, they suffer from seasickness. 

The animals defecate where they stand, leaving them covered in excrement.  The ammonia smell makes it hard to breathe.  Water can be scarce, and also be soiled by excrement.

Many suffer from injuries and disease.  If babies are born during the voyage, they are often tossed overboard.

In 2017 around  2,500 Australian sheep died in the Middle East from heatstroke.  In 2020, the Gulf Livestock I, carrying New Zealand cattle to China sank in a typhoon and approximately 5,800 cattle, and forty-one crew drowned.The countries the animals are exported to generally have little in the way of animal welfare laws, and their slaughterhouses are unregulated.  Some animals are killed immediately on arrival, others are first used for breeding, and then killed.

Live export is one of the cruellest things we can do to sentient beings, and needs to stop.



by Monika Arya

One of the purest beings’ sucked dry sold for a price

Loaded on ferries, lorries or any means they find

Handed over to anyone who would buy

Travel for interminable times sometimes on bawling land, many times tormented waters

Always in infernal misery

Days dark as the darkest night

Narrow space between slats will not let in a shred of light

Soaked in shit, fuming foul tentacles seep into every pore

Open air of boundless seas refuse to absorb the exuding smells

It lingers forever on the trails streaming behind

From their own pee they take a desperate sip

Birth on the way, look at their babies with exhausted love

Knowing they were going to die and tossed overboard

Who wants to carry extra cargo that’s not going to fetch a price?

The buyer will do whatever they like

Cut, strip, hang them until they die

For you for you to sip your chai in your fancy cup

They were sucked dry for your warm joy

Forced to go on a journey from a living death to death

Stacked on meat and dairy shelves poured into cans, cartons and bottles

Wrapped in cellophane, stickers

Indicating best-before-date of expired mankind


Young dairy cow arriving at New Plymouth, New Zealand, to be exported to China.  (Photo Credit, Elin Arbez, Taranaki Animal Save)

Trucks arriving at New Plymouth, New Zealand port to carry cattle to China, 2022 (Photo credit, Summer Aitken, Taranaki Animal Save)

An Australian sheep suffering from heatstroke aboard the Awassi Express, 2017


Long distance live animal transport is a worldwide phenomenon.  Animals transported by sea can be subject to journeys that last for weeks.  They suffer from seasickness, weather vagaries, injuries, and illnesses, and some don’t survive.  During loading and unloading in ports many endure rough handling and cruelty, and their slaughter often takes place in unregulated abattoirs.   Transporting animals overseas, whether for slaughter or breeding purposes, is cruel and torturous.  We must put an end to such suffering.

End Animal Slaughter contributor Summer Aitken reviewed copies of veterinarian reports for five shipments of cattle exported from Aotearoa New Zealand to China between April and May 2021.  Obtained under the Official Information Act 1982 the reports describe appalling conditions, numerous deaths, disease, illness, infection, and graphic injuries amongst the animals.  As welfare issues are still widespread,  Aitken calls for the ban on live export to be effective immediately.  

Feature photo is of a young, pregnant dairy cow arriving at Port Taranaki to board the Ocean Ute for China (Photo: Summer Aitken). 


In 2021 the New Zealand government acknowledged welfare issues and announced a ban on the export of some animals by sea. However the ban does not come into force until 30 April 2023. Unfortunately, instead of seeing a gradual winding down as the government proposed, the practice has significantly increased with approximately 120,000 live cattle exported from New Zealand to China since the 14 April 2021 announcement (Ministry for Primary Industries, 2022). One apparent issue is the high number of pregnant animals being exported. When the Al Kuwait departed from Timaru in April 2021 there were 2,368 pregnant cows on board. The report for the voyage of the Yangtze Fortune from Napier on 14 April 2021 openly lists heifers as either pregnant or “empty.”

Livestock Carrier Al Kuwait

Livestock Carrier Yangtze Fortune

Exporting pregnant animals is so common that the report template specifically asks for the number of cows who experience abortions during the voyage. During the 21-day journey of the Brahman Express from Timaru in May 2021, three cows aborted their pregnancies.  An article from Washington State University explains that heat stress and maternal infection are common causes of pregnancy loss in cows (Tibary, 2021).Seven fatalities were reported in all, including three pregnant Friesians who died from heat stress. Reported symptoms included abdominal discomfort, tremors, and mouth-breathing. One of these heat stressed individuals was described as “recumbent and not getting up” and was subsequently “hosed down” until she got to her feet. She died the following morning.

Reported symptoms included abdominal discomfort, tremors, and mouth-breathing. One of these heat stressed individuals was described as “recumbent and not getting up” and was subsequently “hosed down” until she got to her feet. She died the following morning.

Livestock Carrier Brahman Express (photo: Graham Waller)

Another vessel, the Yangtze Harmony, departed Napier on 8 April 2021 and reported 16 deaths during the voyage. Equally disturbing is the suffering these animals endured. A specific section for reporting on fractures reads, “Two leg fractures occurred early on the trip likely during loading. One neck fracture confirmed and one suspected, from being stuck in railings. Rib fractures in one animal presumed from trampling.”  The animal who had fractures in their right hind leg was not euthanised until ten days into the voyage on the 18 April 2021. If they broke their leg during the loading process as the report suggests, then they were left to suffer for an unacceptable length of time.

“Two leg fractures occurred early on the trip likely during loading. One neck fracture confirmed and one suspected, from being stuck in railings. Rib fractures in one animal presumed from trampling.” 

Livestock Carrier Yangtze Harmony (photographer unknown)

The following excerpts are from the section listing causes of mortalities:

25/4/21 Broken neck. Stuck in railings.

25/4/21 Sudden death. Post mortem findings – shipping fever (lung infection).

28/4/21 Sudden death. Post mortem findings – no abnormalities. Diagnosis unknown.

28/4/21 Unable to stand. Unwell several days. Minimal response to treatment. Euthanised.

01/5/21 Progressive weakness and reluctance to rise. Died during discharge prior to euthanasia.

01/5/21 Broken ribs right side. Died during discharge prior to euthanasia. Unable to post-mortem as crew disposed of body.

01/5/21 Nerve damage preventing hind feet from bearing weight. Unable to rise. Euthanised.

01/5/21 Blind, weak. Lame left fore. Unable to discharge as difficult to draft/move. Euthanised.

01/5/21 Infected left foreleg from full thickness necrotising skin wound on elbow. Euthanised.

01/5/21 Infected right foreleg from full thickness skin wound on elbow. Died during discharge. Post mortem showed severe necrotising. Infection spread across shoulder and body.

01/5/21 Lameness earlier in trip. No attempt made to stand. Unable to get her off the ground. Euthanised.

Regarding the conditions on the decks where the animals were housed, the veterinarian noted that, “Drainage issues on level 1 during the second half of the trip resulted in a mouldy odour on this deck. The amount of sores over joints and animals with some degree of lameness at the end of the trip suggests to me that the bedding/flooring be reviewed. These sores seem to be leading to a nasty type of infection as seen at post mortem.”  Pink eye was also reported to be widespread with some cases being described as severe and at least one case resulting in blindness.

“Drainage issues on level 1 during the second half of the trip resulted in a mouldy odour on this deck. The amount of sores over joints and animals with some degree of lameness at the end of the trip suggests to me that the bedding/flooring be reviewed.

The information in these reports raises concerns around the continuation of an industry which many believe has already been banned. The conditions endured by the animals are so ill-suited that they breach New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act – standards which have been put in place to prevent unnecessary suffering. There is no way to justify the continuation of this harmful practice into 2023. New Zealand must implement an immediate and definitive ban on live export in New Zealand, effective immediately.


Summer Aitken is a Taranaki Animal Save activist, who has been campaigning against Live Export in Port Taranaki. 

They Are Not Yours To Roast: Animals Who Flee The Slaughterhouse

End Animal Slaughter Contributor Lynley Tulloch writes that animals who flee the slaughterhouse should never have been there in the first place.


Shrek is our famous Merino New Zealand sheep who gained notoriety in 2004 by evading shearers for six years and hiding in caves. He shot to fame, was shorn on national television, met the then Prime Minister, and became the stuff of children’s books.

Shrek the Sheep.  (Image Source


Now some sheep in the United Kingdom have reached headlines after escaping the torturous environment of a slaughterhouse.  The sheep were reported by Metro to have ‘defiantly’ run away and were chased by a man in  butcher’s overalls down an urban street. Lamb leg roast be damned, locals were reportedly urging the sheep to ‘run sheep run’!

I have read stories of these ‘escapee’ animals over the years, and they have always struck me as desperately sad. Animals will literally climb mountains and swim seas to try and find safety for themselves.

A cow called Molly reportedly jumped a  5 ½ foot fence at a Montana slaughterhouse and sprinted across a busy highway before swimming across the Missouri River. When she was caught she was adopted by a sanctuary due to popular concern for her.

Molly the Cow’s bid for freedom. ( mage Source:


There is a similar report of a  ‘runaway cow’ in Poland who escaped a slaughterhouse in 2018, rammed a metal fence, and broke a worker’s ribs and an arm. She swam to the islands of Lake Nyksie. As far as I know she is still there as she continues to dive under water to escape humans.

Some don’t end as well. A 900kg bull escaped the Frankton saleyards in 2017 and was shot to death. They said he was ‘rampaging’ on the streets of Hamilton in New Zealand. If he saw people he got ‘agitated’. Go figure.

And then there was Meteor the ‘aloof yak’ from Virginia in the United States. In 2019 Meteor escaped from a farm truck on the way to slaughter. He bolted like the meteoric legend he is and suddenly everyone wants him to survive, even while chewing on their steaks.

Meteor the Elusive Yak. (Image Source:


Go, Meteor go! He is now a celebrity of sorts – a unique and clever bovine. Or so the story goes. Meteor wanders the hills, a lone and wonderful bull. A bull who deserves to live. His ‘owner’ Robert Cissell reportedly said that if Meteor was caught he would ‘live out his life, now he is a celebrity’.

How disingenuous.  Suddenly Meteor, who previously was nothing but fodder for humans, nothing but a chunk of rare steak bleeding on your plate, is now a shooting star.

Shine on Meteor. In my book you deserved to live all along.

We conveniently ignore animal sentience until we can identify with it. We recognize the plight of runaway animals. We feel a stirring of compassion. It’s not a bad thing – it’s a great thing – I just wish it were not so selective.

Even animal rights group PETA joins in with this narrative. Branding the escapee animals as ‘ambassadors’ they say that they must be granted their freedom. They must be allowed to live because they showed such ‘ingenuity and determination’.

Don’t get me wrong. I want the sheep to live. I want all sheep to live, not just the ones who found a hole in the slaughterhouse enclosure and ran for it.

I want Meteor to live. But I also wanted the 6000 cows who drowned off the coast of Japan when the Gulf Livestock 1 capsized in a typhoon to live. Those cows did not have the opportunity to be ‘defiant’ against their human captors but were no less worthy of living.

One of the 6,000 NZ cars who drowned off the coast of Japan.  (Image Source:


It’s tempting to hold these escapee animals up as heroes deserving of compassion.  Animal rights advocates often use their stories to demonstrate the sentience of animals and the strength of their desire to live. Meat eaters identify with their plight and want to grant them a stay of execution. We place on them qualities such as courage and determination.

We should be focusing on their fear as well. We should be thinking about our relationship with all animals and what we do to them through farming.

All farm animals suffer one way or another. This is especially true at the slaughterhouse where they are enclosed in a noisy and foreign environment. They have endured a terrifying transport ordeal and are looking for a way out. As animals are individuals they will respond in different ways . They react to stress with the ‘flight or fight’ response just like humans. Still others might be quieter and react by withdrawing into themselves.

Young steer waiting for slaughter. (Image Source: Sandra Kyle)


Being herd animals cows will usually do their best to flee from danger. These incidents are less a result of a ‘courageous animal’ as they are the opportunity to escape presenting itself.  No animal should be put in this position in the first place.

Animals have emotions and they think. There is continuity in the emotional lives of animals and humans, of that we can be certain. Life is emotionally vivid for animals who strive to stay alive, and to get the basics such as food and shelter. They also express joy and have ambitions and plan and think ahead. They develop bonds with other animals.

Animals are complex.   They develop bonds and have plans.  (Image Source: Live Kindly)


So if you want those sheep to live, if you find yourself cheering them on, you already believe in their freedom. There is only one thing to do. Put down your fork. Don’t pick up the dead bodies of their cousins in the supermarket and roast them.

(Image source


Lynley Tulloch is an animal rights activist and writer.  She has a PhD in Sustainability Education and Ecocentric Philosophy


Unholy Abuse Of Animals To The Holy Land: Live Export To Israel


  • Israel’s State Comptroller this week issued a report confirming the cruelty of live shipments.
  • Ships are often in poor condition, suffering from insufficient ventilation, high temperatures and humidity.
  • Animals are forced to live in their own excrement; stand in wet bedding; food and water is often lacking; and ammonia from urine causes the animals breathing difficulties and sore eyes.   
  • Some animals suffer direct animal abuse such as electric shocking.
  • Complaints over the years about regulations not being adhered to have not been followed up.
  • A record-breaking 691,327 live lambs and calves were transported to Israel for fattening and slaughter last year.
  • In light of the dangers posed by imported livestock who may carry diseases not common in the region, the Report recommends Israel’s veterinary service carry out a risk assessment.
  • Imported fodder, which may contain metals, pesticides, molds and toxins should also be investigated.
  • The Report says that steps should be taken immediately to allow appropriate, ongoing oversight of the issue and to prevent repeated violation of instructions.




In remote stations in the Australian outback, sick animals are left to starve or be shot, sometimes with cheap bullets that don’t kill the animals outright causing them acute suffering.  Workers routinely abuse the animals, kicking and punching cows in the face, jumping on their backs and beating them with a stick. 

Such behaviours were uncovered when ‘Sentient’, an Israeli non-profit, sent ‘backpackers’ to outback farms.  The footage they shot shows cows crying out in pain as they are dehorned without anaesthetic – dispensed with because it’s ‘too much hassle’ and in order to save money.   To economise vets are often not called when animals are sick, and they are left to die a lingering death or are shot.   

Sentient beings are just a number in these places: counted on their dollar worth and that alone.  What’s more, after a lifetime of such abuse,  many endure the horror of live-export to places like Asia where they end up in cruel, unregulated slaughterhouses.  From birth to death they have known nothing but abuse, suffering and terror.  

There is a way to stop such abominations from happening, and that is to eat a vegan diet. 

Read the ‘Mercy for Animals’ article and watch the video here.   (Warning:  Graphic footage)


The Depravity of Live Export

Live Export is Australia and New Zealand’s Shame, is morally bankrupt, and needs to stop writes End Animal Slaughter contributor Lynley Tulloch


The live export of animals from New Zealand and Australia is a contentious issue, with concern over welfare outcomes. Despite this, 56,000 sheep are currently being exported from Australia to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates by live export company RETWA.

There have been objections to this voyage from animal rights group Animals Australia, who call them ‘death ships’, but these were overturned. The sheep boarded  the MC Ocean Drover during the weekend of 25 May to sail the high seas. But this is no cruise ship in paradise for these woolly unfortunates, and they will undeniably suffer.

Animals Australia report that these sheep will wallow in their urine and feces which accumulates each day on export ships. This waste builds up and melts into a deathly soup when temperatures rise, and ammonia levels reach unbearable proportions. Sheep will get crushed trying to get to the fresh air vents for cooler air. The irritants from ammonia cause eye infections and the dust from food pellets lead to respiratory illnesses. Many sheep will die painful and slow deaths.

Those that survive will enter a foreign country with their sheep death passports. They are regarded not as individuals but as live lumps of meat. Humans often don’t see the person behind the wool and the ear tag, but there is one there. Sheep have individual personalities, intelligence and emotions. Exporting them as if they are a sack of vegetables is nothing short of depravity.

Sheep get such bad rap for being mindless and stupid, and undeservedly so. There is a deep intelligence, sensitivity and emotional life underneath the woolly coat. Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that sheep have the brainpower to equal rodents, monkeys and, in some tests, even humans. Sheep are not only intelligent but also deeply sensitive and have complex emotions. A 2009 study showed that : “Sheep are able to experience emotions such as fear, anger, rage, despair, boredom, disgust and happiness because they use the same checks involved in such emotions as humans”. Sheep feel despair in uncontrollable and discrepant situations that don’t meet with expectations – like a live sheep export journey .

A recent study on sheep by neuroscientist Lori Marino and Professor of media studies Debra Merskin concluded that sheep are highly intelligent and social individuals with distinct personalities. Tests done on sheep revealed excellent learning and prodigious memory abilities. Marino and Merskin contend that: “Sheep have emotions that range across the spectrum and combine with cognition in complex ways. They show evidence of cognitive bias, emotional reactions to learning, emotional contagion (which may be a simple form of empathy), and social buffering”.

So, in short we have 56.000 intelligent and deeply sensitive individuals being shipped without their consent or knowledge to another country to be killed. If we think about the studies above, we can conclude that they are likely to be experiencing despair, fear and boredom – and possibly even rage. I know that I would be feeling all these things if it happened to me. But even worse for the sheep, they have no human language to even possibly grasp the depraved rationality behind what is happening to them.

The truth behind live exports is as chilling as a horror movie, and in all honesty is just as well the sheep do not know. They are sent overseas to be slaughtered. As can be expected there have been many catastrophes when things don’t go right.  In 2013 there was a scandal and compliance investigation after the unauthorized movement of sheep in Kuwait. Legally exported sheep have to be killed at an approved slaughterhouse facility, but Animals Australia obtained footage of 100 sheep outside of this chain in markets. These sheep were likely to have been slaughtered on site as is the custom,  their throats cut while they struggled for life. The report by the Australian Government concluded that, “there was a loss of control leading to unauthorised movement of sheep outside the approved supply chains.”

Other reports from Animals Australia are of sheep in Malaysia who were “thrown, trussed, dragged and had their necks ‘sawn at’ by unskilled slaughtermen. All while fully conscious”. In 2014 Animals Australia investigated the Festival of Sacrifice, which they reported  is a goldmine for live animal exporters. The atrocities on animals committed in the name of this festival are sadistic and cruel.

This is the absolute folly of live export. The legalities from the countries exporting the animals require compliance to accepted animal welfare codes. But once animals reach their destination, there is no guarantee that these laws are upheld. Animal welfare standards in Australia and New Zealand are woefully absent in many countries that animals are shipped to. Corruption, crime and industry cover-ups keep these atrocities in the dark.

It is not just sheep who suffer in Australia’s live export business. RSPCA Australia details that each year three million live sheep, buffalo, cattle and goats are exported to be killed for their meat overseas. Some are even wild, having been caught from the bush. Unused to people and fences, their journeys must be all the more horrific.

Australia recently came under scrutiny for shipping 3000 live dairy cows to Sri Lanka through  the Australian owned export corporation Wellard.  New Zealand has shipped 2000 cows to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan farmers have not received guidance and support promised from Wellard and the cows are suffering with dysentery, mastitis and Mycoplasma bovis bacterium. Distressing footage has emerged of these cows collapsing and dying. Wellard still has to send another 15,000 cows to fill the order.

But cows aren’t books from Amazon. You can’t just ship them off across the globe and cross your fingers. This isn’t going to end well, especially not for the cows.

New Zealand has a colorful story when it comes to the whole live shipment debacle. New Zealand banned live export of sheep following a 2003 disaster when 5000 sheep died on a ship bound for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of 57,000 sheep which then were left stranded at sea with no port for two months. Thousands of sheep died slow and horrific deaths on board. The remainder were gifted to the poor northern African nation Eritrea where they  were killed in makeshift slaughter houses.

Yet New Zealand has struggled over the years to maintain this ban due to pressure on New Zealand’s trading and diplomatic relationships with Saudi Arabia.  Between 2010-2012 Sheik Hmood Al-Khalaf , an influential Saudi businessman with significant interests in New Zealand animal agriculture made his grievances public.  This resulted in a  multi-million cash payout, and a New Zealand built  Agrihub and slaughterhouse in the Saudi desert – all on the taxpayer. New Zealand was fearful that the influence of Mr. Al-Khalaf would blight free trade agreements with the Gulf States.

It basically comes down to terse playoff between the lives of animals and the almighty dollar. And as usually happens, morals go down the drain when financial interests are at stake. When treating animal lives as commodities there is always going to be this kind of tension between their well-being and maximizing profit.

Currently New Zealand exports live animals for breeding purposes. In 2015 New Zealand air freighted 900 heavily pregnant sheep to the Sheiks new Agri hub, and most of the lambs (75 %) died.

Apart from this debacle, 2017 statistics demonstrate ongoing live exports with 8 million live animals exported overseas, much of whom were day-old chicks and incubated eggs ready for hatching, 27,306 live cattle for breeding and more than 15,000 kilograms of bees. Only 123 of all live exports were sheep. Many New Zealand cattle are sent to China to spend their lives in concrete feedlots, only to be slaughtered after they have fulfilled their reproductive ‘duties’. Ultimately exporting for breeding results in the animal’s slaughter.

The issue of live export is a heated one, but it is also quite simple if we follow ethical principles rather than material ones.  Non-human animals are not commodities, and should not be subject to long journeys across the ocean for any reason. They are intelligent individuals who feel a complex range of emotions and value their lives. We have no right to treat them as mere fodder for the capitalist machine.