Livestock for export usually attracts a premium, which can be 50-85% of an animal’s value above the domestic market. Selling livestock for export is a useful income generator for rural communities.

In the past 10 years, around 5,000 farmers across New Zealand have supplied breeding cattle for export, with an average of over 40 animals per farm.

Additional to the livestock value that farmers receive directly, a shipment of around 3,000 animals can return roughly $1.5 million to New Zealand based service providers. Including domestic livestock transporters, veterinarians, feed supply companies, quarantine facilities and regional accommodation providers. It’s the rural areas and rural service centres that see most of the economic benefits from the trade as this additional income circulates creating an economic multiplier effect.

In 2020 New Zealand exported $255.89 million of live cattle to the rest of the world.

Live exports have made up roughly 0.2 per cent of all agriculture revenue since 2015.

Graph produced by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa

For the year ending June 2019, the value of New Zealand’s livestock (cattle, deer, goats and sheep) exports was approximately $54 million (the total trade in live animals was worth $239 million).

Trade in animals and animal products was around $30.8 billion which accounts for approximately 66% of the value of New Zealand’s total primary products exported.

Table: Average value of exported animals in 2017, 2018, and 2019 (years ended June)*
















While this is the average value, some exported animals attract a much higher price. For example, a 2019 consignment of 36 breeding rams to the United Kingdom had an average value of $6,771. When whole dairying herds of sheep are exported, the breeding ewes attract a lower price than the breeding rams.

*Figures are from the Livestock Export Review MPI Discussion Paper that was prepared for public release by the Ministry for Primary Industries Nov 2019.


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