Exporting livestock

The export of livestock (sheep, cattle, deer, and goats) for slaughter is restricted unless exporters apply for and are granted an exemption. Find out more about the restrictions.


Restriction protects NZ's trade reputation

The export of livestock (sheep, cattle, deer, and goats) for slaughter is prohibited unless the risks to New Zealand's trade reputation can be adequately managed. Under the Animal Welfare (Export of Livestock for Slaughter) Regulations 2016, no live animals may be exported for slaughter without the prior approval of the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Approval may only be granted if the Director-General judges that the risks can be adequately managed.

Applications for an exemption

The Director-General of MPI can take the following factors into account when considering any applications, noting that applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The factors considered can include:

  • the export is for slaughter of livestock in commercial slaughter houses
  • the importing country has requirements in place that meet the World Organisation for Animal Health 'Guidelines for the Slaughter of Animals'
  • cattle exported for slaughter are stunned prior to slaughter in accordance with any of the methods described in the Guidelines
  • the importing country has requirements in place that meet the World Organisation for Animal Health 'Guidelines for the Transport of Animals by Land, Sea and Air', in relation to the unloading and post-journey handling and transport of livestock
  • a pre-shipment audit of slaughter facilities by inspectors nominated by MPI, carried out at the exporters' expense, demonstrates compliance with the above requirements
  • any other matter the Director-General of MPI considers necessary to manage the risks to New Zealand's reputation as a responsible exporter of agricultural products.

Exporters are also required to provide a declaration as to the purpose of export for all livestock exports.

The Director-General may review the factors he or she considers relevant at any time, taking into account such matters as the experience from past trade.

The Director-General may require a bilateral arrangement to be in place to support the requirements of importing countries set out above, along with any other requirements he or she believes are necessary to maintain New Zealand's reputation as a responsible exporter of agricultural products. In deciding whether to require a bilateral arrangement, the Director-General could take into account relevant experience with exporting livestock to that country.

Exporters will also, in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, need to satisfy the Director-General as to the conditions for transport of livestock up until the point of disembarkation. Where livestock are being transported by sea this may include a requirement that an MPI-accredited veterinarian accompany the shipment, experienced stockmen are on board, and provision is made for rapid disembarkation and, if required, quarantine.

Who to contact

If you have questions about exporting livestock, email animalexports@mpi.govt.nz.

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