What is live export?

New Zealand sells a lot of different products to overseas countries (exports). Live export is the sale of live animals to overseas buyers. The journey that these animals take is usually crowded and frightening. Animals can feel motion sickness and some will die from the stress of the journey.

Who is being exported?

Over 2.8 million live animals were exported in 2018. Baby chicks are New Zealand’s largest live animal export. When the chicks hatch they are put into boxes and flown overseas. Thousands of chicks will go in one shipment. Cows (sometimes pregnant) are sent on huge ships in crowded pens. Their journey can take many weeks. Fish, sheep, goats, deer, llamas, alpacas and pigs are also shipped overseas.

What is life like once they get there?

New Zealand law recognises that animals have feelings (known as sentience). Our animal welfare laws state how animals should and should not be treated. Many countries that New Zealand exports to do not have the same welfare standards as we do. They may be housed in cruel conditions or slaughtered in ways we would consider illegal. This means the animals’ suffering is likely to continue once they arrive at their overseas destination.

Did you know?

A petition calling for an end to live exports in New Zealand was delivered to Parliament by SAFE back in October 2019. The petition held over 30,000 signatures from kind people who were concerned about the welfare of animals being sent overseas.

Quick facts

  • Live animals exported from New Zealand include: Cattle, chickens and other birds, sheep, goats, deer, llamas, alpacas, pigs, bees, fish (including eels) and other aquatic animals
  • 7,500 new born chicks on average are sent overseas from New Zealand per day
  • Over 40,000 cows were exported in 2019
  • Most cows are exported on ships to China, this will take 16-18 days.
  • The export of cows, sheep, goat and deer to be killed was banned in NZ in 2003.
  • The animals that are still exported for breeding will eventually be killed in conditions NZ may consider illegal
  • SAFE collected over 30,000 signatures for a petition to ban live exports. It was presented to Parliament in 2019

We can’t just overlook their suffering. In order to create the sort of society that we want to live in, that I want to live in, we need to be kind to everyone, including animals.

Lillian and Zara – Animal Squad members

How you can help end live export

Send a letter to the Government telling them that you want all live exports banned for good (because you believe in being kind to all animals).

write a letter


Education is a big part of ending live export as many people do not even know this type of export exists! Share what you have learnt by making a library display about live exports and why it should be banned.

make a library display


Another way to educate your classmates and teacher is to choose to do your next school project on live export. You could do anything from presenting a speech to writing a story.

do a school project