New Zealand is brushing up its animal welfare credentials with fresh steps to restrict the live export of animals for slaughter.

With 90% of its farm products going for export, and the farming industry accounting for 17% of the country’s economy, the NZ government has introduced new requirements over recent weeks, Barry O’Neil, deputy director general of MAF Biosecurity New Zealand and president of the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE, said in London last week.

The new requirement is for importing countries to demonstrate appropriate handling facilities and for all live imports to go direct to a slaughterhouse, effectively ruling out “backyard” slaughtering for cultural or religious purposes.

Mr O’Neil expected the move to further reduce the live export of NZ sheep to the Middle East, with only limited exports of some niche breeds likely to continue.

* This is the fifth article in a special FWi mini-series profiling OIE President Barry O’Brien’s speech in London on Tuesday 20 May 2008.

Next article: “Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock” appears Sunday 1 June.

See: Cost and responsibility sharing roadshow