Cornwall Park stands by decision to ship cows to Mongolia

The animals will be used in a breeding programme overseas.
The animals will be used in a breeding programme overseas. Photo credit: Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park is standing by its decision to send a number of cows to Mongolia as part of a breeding programme.

The popular Auckland park received a torrent of criticism online after announcing the move on Facebook earlier this week.

The park said it was proud to be participating in the programme and the cows would play a role in helping raise the living standards of people living in remote villages.

But people online said the decision to ship the cattle by sea was "disgusting", with some also questioning whether the cows would be able to survive in the extreme Mongolian climate.

"This is so sad Cornwall Park," wrote one person. "Is the few extra $$$ you will get in the short-term for these cows, worth the suffering they will go through onboard a ship?"

"You're proud that you're being paid to send your cows on a horrific journey to a place that has such cold winters many animals cannot endure?" wrote another.

"Please reconsider this terrible decision."

"Shame on you,"  wrote someone else.

The live export trade has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with critics saying it's cruel and should be banned.

The sinking of the Livestock 1 carrier last year, which resulted in the loss of 42 crew members - including two New Zealanders - and almost 6000 cattle, put a renewed focus on the issue and led to further calls for the practice to be prohibited.

The Government launched a review of the live export trade in 2019, which looked at options ranging from improving systems to a total ban. A decision was held up due to COVID-19 but Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor recently said the Ministry for Primary Industries had given him its final advice and a decision on the matter would be made over the next month or two.

Animal Rights group SAFE says Aucklanders would be shocked to learn their park was being used to raise animals for the controversial trade.

"Does the Cornwall Park Trust Board know for certain the conditions that they're sending their cows in to?" SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton said.

"They'll face a long, rough journey in cramped, disgusting conditions before arriving at a country with high elevations and cold, dry conditions. This is a far different fate from their upbringings in Cornwall Park."

In a statement to Newshub, park director Michael Ayrton said cows from Cornwall Park's farm had long been sold to other farms wanting to improve the quality of their herds, mostly in New Zealand.

"As farmers, we put a high priority on the welfare of the animals in our care," he said.

"We believe our pasture-based farming system is an exemplar, and we are proud to maintain a successful working farm in the middle of New Zealand's largest city.

"We have been told that this Mongolian breeding programme will help farmers in remote villages become more self-sufficient and improve the villagers' standard of living significantly."

Ayrton said the top-quality Simmental cows produced by the park were valuable animals, and were cared for and treated as such.