Submissions sought on dairy cattle animal welfare code

Submissions are sought on the proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on the proposed changes to the code. It proposes that blunt force trauma may not be used for the routine killing of unwanted dairy calves on the farm.

“We understand that people are concerned about farmers using blunt force trauma to kill young calves on the farm,” says Dr Karen Phillips, deputy-chair of NAWAC.

“The risks of incorrect use, coupled with the fact that there are alternatives that can be better for animal welfare, meant that it was time to consider changing the rules on this.

“Industry bodies have been discouraging it over a number of years and it is no longer common practice. However, we agree that there are significant animal welfare concerns when this method is not used correctly,” says Dr Phillips.

The proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare are as follows:

Proposed amendment to 5.10 Calf Management:

  • Specification that blunt force trauma is not acceptable for routine killing of unwanted calves;
  • Calves must remain insensible until death is confirmed; and
  • Those destroying calves on-farm must be competent.

Proposed amendment to 6.4 Emergency Humane Destruction:

  • Clarifies that methods used to kill an animal in an emergency may be used in an emergency only and may not be used for routine on-farm destruction of dairy calves; and
  • Emphasises the need to ensure the death of the animal following any humane destruction.

“The long term solution is to support the work that industry is doing to discourage the killing of calves on farm by blunt force.

NAWAC wants to hear from farmers on whether or not the proposals are realistic for them. “Without farmer support, animal welfare cannot improve,” says Dr Phillips.

Click here to read the proposal and make a submission at the Ministry of Primary Industries website.

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