Mexican cruise for cows

FREDERICTON, N.B. (Sept. 24, 2003) — A Fredericton farmer turned exporter wants to ship, quite literally, cattle to Mexico, while circumventing territory in the U.S., which still remains closed to all Canadian cattle and certain beef exports.

Larry Jewett, designer and owner of the “cowtainer” transportation system presents what he calls a golden opportunity for shippers to transport cattle to Mexico, which has been rumoured to open its borders to live cattle in the near future. Jewett says if that happens, shipping by sea is the only logical option since cattle-loaded trucks are still banned from the U.S., even as a through-route to Mexico.

Jewett, whose company is called Ocean Livestock, told Canadian Press he’s been flooded with calls from cattle shippers excited about using his “cowtainers” once the first major market for live cattle reopens.

The patented units look like typical intermodal containers on the outside, but inside they are fully equipped small barns with windows, ventilation systems, hay lofts, and enough room to accommodate up to 23 small cows or 15 heifers. “It’s like any cruise,” he told the news service. “The cows just eat, drink and sleep.”

Jewett originally built the cowtainers in the mid-1990s to ship cattle from Saint John to the United Kingdom, before that market evaporated after a devastating foot-and-mouth outbreak in Britain. When mad cow disease closed international borders to Canadian cattle, Jewett found himself with a lot of empty cowtainers, and moved his business to Florida where the cowtainers are used to ship U.S. cattle to Puerto Rico and Morocco. Now, with Mexico’s announcement, he could be back in business.

Earlier this month, Mexico announced that it’s poised to open its borders to Canadian dairy cattle, providing it can work out transportation arrangements. About 15,000 dairy cows have already been purchased by Mexican producers and are awaiting shipment.

— Canadian Press

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