GALVESTON, Texas (Sept. 29, 2011) – The Port of Galveston set a record for load out of livestock in any one shipment from a US port on September 21 when the MV Ocean Drover, a ship carrying 5,585 head of cattle departed the Port of Galveston for the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, Russia. The previous record was a shipment of 5,400 head of cattle loaded out of the port of Wilmington, DE.
The ship is carrying mostly Holstein heifers, along with a smaller number of Hereford and Black Angus heifers, most of which are pregnant. It is sailing on an approximate 18 day voyage to Novorossiysk, Russia to help replenish the herds that have been in decline there for 15 years.
The Ocean Drover, built in 2002, is the world’s largest purpose-built livestock carrier, with advanced ventilation, feed, and water systems.
The cattle were off loaded from trucks to a holding area in the Port of Galveston, a warehouse at pier 34, before boarding the ship. Federal rules require that the livestock load-out facility allows each cow 25 square feet of space, with at least three-quarters of the space under a roof, and federal animal welfare rules require cattle to be unloaded, fed, watered and rested for five hours before loading them on to a ship.
Vern Brown, president of Michigan-based First Midwest Ag Capital Partners, and his business partner Howard Scarff, of Scarff Brothers Inc., organized Wednesday’s shipment to Russia.
Shipping cattle means cargo diversification and jobs for the port, which worked 16 months to achieve the U.S. Department of Agriculture designation needed to export livestock.
”This is all about creating economic impact. It is about creating jobs for the local community and providing economic impact for the Galveston Bay region and the State of Texas.”, said Port Director, Steve Cernak.
Livestock will increasingly be counted among Port of Galveston’s cargo as Brown’s group intends to ship thousands of head of cattle from the island in the upcoming months. More than 7,000 head of cattle have been shipped to Russia from the Port of Galveston since July 1, 2011.
The Port of Galveston is Texas’ gateway for cruise sailings and international trade. The Port of Galveston serves as the primary point of embarkation for cruises to the western Caribbean and handles over 850,000 cruise passengers annually. These visits are estimated to have produced $38 million in passenger and crew onshore spending. The Port is self supporting enterprise fund with operating revenues of approximately $21 million. It does not rely on tax dollars for operations.