Animal welfare is at the heart of everything we do. AUSTREX’s animal welfare practices are consistently superior to comparable in‐country supply chain outcomes in first‐world countries. For example, in sea‐borne shipments, we have achieved an average mortality rate of just 5.29 animals per 10,000 head (or 0.05 per cent), since 2014.

For over 48 years, we have maintained a record of delivering livestock safely, with long-term customer satisfaction and strong animal welfare outcomes. With an experienced veterinarian as our group Chairman (Dr Richard Trivett), the highest animal welfare standards are championed from the very top and throughout the business. Our high standards and excellent compliance record are central to our company culture and reputation.

Good physical and mental health in animals, including freedom from stress and good nutrition, are not only an ethical priority of our business but are also inextricably linked to fertility and positive business performance. There is a strong business case to maintain the highest standards of animal wellbeing.

Some nations will always need to import cattle for food-security and to provide herd replenishment. For example, China and Japan do not have enough pastureland to raise the livestock they need. Constraints on cattle farming exist in the Middle East and other parts of Asia. New Zealand is helping those nations by exporting high quality livestock.
In addition, New Zealand dairy farmers produce many more calves than they need. Without this export trade, these calves would be euthanised after birth. The responsible export of surplus livestock means the calves can grow into adult animals and live healthy, productive lives.

New Zealand does not export animals for slaughter. Instead, New Zealand leads the global live animal export industry for breeding stock. Breeder cattle, as a premium-priced export, are a critical element of professionally run breeding programmes for milk production and to increase the quality of the buyer’s herd.
AUSTREX NZ only works with selected global trade partners, including proven high-performing customers, who run quality operations in the markets we export to.

Our commitment to animal welfare does not end when we deliver the animals. AUSTREX NZ walks with its customers through every step of the export process, from selection and preparation, to delivery and post-arrival reception, to ensure animals are productive and meet expectations. We provide experts and training in nutrition, breeding, handling and welfare throughout the process to safeguard a sustainable supply chain and provide a successful result.
This includes significant ongoing investment in maintaining skilled in-house compliance personnel and systems, with Group FY21 investment expected to be in the order of 20 per cent of FY20 Group NPAT.

Yes. We have made a series of carefully weighed commercial decisions to not supply potential customers where we consider the animal welfare risk unsatisfactory. Our experience is that smallholder farmer (<25 head of cattle) projects in Third World involve risks not applicable with major global agribusinesses with OIE and other reputational obligations. As a result, AUSTREX NZ has avoided some smallholder aid projects on animal welfare risk grounds.

The livestock export industry is highly regulated – however, we have been calling for further regulation (see below for more). In New Zealand, anyone who owns or is responsible for animals must comply with the Animal Welfare Act and regulations under the Act. In addition, Codes of Welfare under the Act set out minimum standards for animal care and management. There is a Code of Welfare specifically on transport of animals within New Zealand. The livestock export control system is comprehensive. Exporters need to demonstrate they have met all requirements under existing legislation and guidelines (international and domestic) before exports are approved.
This diagram summarises the process and the regulations at each step.


In 2020 we called for a global-best practice system that is performance-based, with all potential exporters licenced by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Key principles proposed were to ensure that the system has real “teeth” so that there are enforceable penalties for breaches of performance standards. We believe that we must ensure there are not any perverse incentives for poor performers: cutting corners would have to lead to real, not perfunctory, consequences for the system to be effective.

AUSTREX NZ proposed a 12-point regulatory framework to livestock export regulations to further improve and modernise the export system as part of MPI’s Livestock Export Review. If adopted, these improvements would go further than the additional requirements introduced by the Ministry in October 2020, and exceed current international best practice.
Since the announcement of the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act in 2021 for a complete ban of live animal exports, AUSTREX has been working with industry to champion an industry Gold Standard.

AUSTREX, with industry partners AGTA and LENZ, is developing a Gold Standard programme to provide assurance that all animals are cared for throughout the export process and beyond. The standard would outline specific requirements and policies that are designed to lead to a positive sentient state for exported livestock.
The Gold Standard would require minimum weight and body condition score requirements and environmental and nutritional needs as well as minimum standards for vessels and a transparent reporting system to measure animal welfare during the voyage.
It proposes protection for animals after they have arrived at their destination, to ensure expectations that they live at least an equivalent life, as a minimum, to that they would have in New Zealand.

AUTSREX NZ is concerned that many in the community have an inaccurate understanding of New Zealand’s breeder livestock export industry and are pushing the government for a ‘ban’. We believe that would be a mistake. It is possible to have both high standards of animal welfare and good export outcomes for New Zealand and its trading partners. A debate based on the false premise of a binary choice between one or the other is misleading.

New Zealand competes against other cattle exporting nations such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and Chile. If New Zealand declines to export livestock to nations who need it, those nations would simply import livestock from other nations, and New Zealand’s position of positive influence over global livestock export outcomes would be lost.

Yes, approximately 130 countries globally export live animals by sea.  Notably the EU is the largest live exporter by sea globally.  They recently undertook a parliamentary review of live exports originating from EU member states and the recommendations and ensuing decision was for the trade to continue with more rigorous regulation regarding preparation and voyages.

AUSTREX NZ only utilise custom built livestock ships which have received (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) AMSA & Maritime NZ approval. AMSA is globally regarded to have the most rigorous framework for approval of livestock ships. Of the estimated global fleet of Livestock ships AUSTREX NZ only uses the top 10% from a management, design and performance perspective.  Owners & management for these vessels are located in Singapore, Australia and Europe.

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