Three thousand dairy heifers will today begin their journey to China on board a livestock transporter docked in Timaru.
The heifers went through the final stages of quarantine yesterday and were due to finish being loaded onto the ship, the Ocean Swagman, this morning.
The shipment was brokered by South Canterbury livestock company Peter Walsh and Associates. Peter Walsh said the ship was only on its sixth voyage and was state of the art in its design and animal welfare.
"It's not a big ship but it's service built for this trade. I think it can take 6500 maximum, so it's half-loaded."
The cows had come from farms throughout New Zealand and were being exported to service the growing Chinese dairying industry. "There's huge demand in China for dairy cattle."
It is is nearly double the size of a dairy cattle shipment exported from Timaru last year.
He said all of the cattle would be used for breeding and none for slaughter.
The Ocean Swagman arrived unlisted in Timaru late on Tuesday. It was built by Australian agricultural export company the Wellard Group.
PrimePort Timaru was unable to comment on the ship's cargo and why it was unlisted.
- The Timaru Herald