One and a half years ago, three individuals from England looked at importing live Lowline cattle from New Zealand to England. Because of testing requirements for the two countries, the transaction was not possible. The buyers then looked to Canada and found our operation on the internet. They approached us in October of 2009 to see if we were able to export cattle to the UK and what requirements were needed (CFIA) to complete a sale to the EU.
Our initial discussions with Dr. Salam Shoukath Ali, with the CFIA in Edmonton and with Dr. Rick Faintuck of Stockyard Vets resulted in our moving forward to obtain Leukosis free status for our herd. These tests took four months to complete. With tests coming back negative, we became a part of the CHAH program – Canada Health Accredited Herd Enzootic Bovine Leukosis. (We were told that we are the only herd entered into this CHAH program at this time.) With our CHAH status established, our buyers looked to Stanford Livestock International in England and Sea Air International out of Toronto, for making shipping arrangements. April 28th on an Air Canada flight was the date chosen.
The buyers then made a trip from England (the Salisbury, Wilt area) and looked at 10 heifers. They decided they would take as many as could fit into one crate, which meant that we were working with the number 8. With the purchase decided, we booked (April 28th) an Air Canada flight for transporting the cattle to England. In the end, the buyers decided to purchase 2 crates and take all 10 heifers. We now had to quarantine the 10 heifers and begin the export health requirements process.
The buyers were interested in bringing Lowline cattle to England because they believe that there will be a growing interest in these cattle as they are an excellent fit for the type of operations that exist in England and for persons wanting to put some cattle on their smaller parcels of land. There were 3 Lowline cattle in their area already, brought over as embryos from Australia and there was already interest in these smaller Aberdeen Angus cattle, noted for their feed efficiency. Our buyers decided to pursue bringing a live shipment into their country.
We had great cooperation from the CFIA through the whole process. They worked with us on developing our biosecurity protocol which was a requirement of being able to enter the CHAH program and all other details that had to be sorted out. We also had assistance from Dr. Rick Faintuck, Stockyard Vets, in the development of this protocol and in performing the Leukosis tests under the CHAH program. Murray Skippen spent time getting the heifers ready for their trip, halter training and clipping them. They looked great as they were finally ready to leave our place.
On the morning of April 28th, the CFIA came out to our place, inspected our truck and trailer and supervised the loading of the 10 heifers. We headed off to Calgary (drove through a snowstorm) and met with the CFIA and Sea Air International. Everything went very smoothly there and we loaded the heifers in two very comfortable looking crates. They flew for 8 hours and arrived safely in London.
We were told that there was quite a bit of excitement at the Heathrow airport as there had not been any cattle going through there in 15 to 20 years. We were told on this end that it has been 25 years since any live beef cattle have gone from Canada to England, since their hoof and mouth outbreak. Our heifers were received very well. “They looked and behaved very well. Your cattle are welcome over here anytime!” is the response we got from the vets and the new owners. “They walked out of the crates looking clean and relaxed.”
Our heifers are the first live Lowline cattle to be brought into England. The heifers are reportedly doing very well. The buyers are hoping to be able to work with us again in the coming year for another shipment of Lowline cattle.