A focus in 2016 on the proper handling of bobby calves is having results after an industry-wide review from farm to processor.
The Meat Industry Association (MIA) took the lead in putting together a cross-sector bobby calf working group, which undertook a review to identify opportunities to improve the handling of young dairy calves. This recognises it is a shared responsibility across the sector for bobby calf animal welfare.
The working group developed a ‘bobby solutions’ document identifying 14 key work programmes to be delivered across the supply chain, strengthening best practice, explains MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.
At the end of the 2016 bobby calf season, Ministry for Primary Industries’ figures show that calf mortalities on arrival at processing plants were half of what they were the previous year, down from 0.25 percent to 0.12 percent.
Ritchie is pleased to see the results, which he says, “reinforce the significant progress made over recent years”.
“Ensuring animals are handled with respect is a non-negotiable.
“Our industry is subject to significant regulatory oversight and plant staff are also playing a part in identifying cases of suspected maltreatment for further investigation,” he says.
“More can obviously be done and MIA will continue to be proactive,” promises Ritchie, adding it requires more effective communication between farmers, transporters and processors.
He says it is critically important that New Zealand retains its excellent reputation for animal welfare, noting society’s expectation that all animals should be treated with respect.
“We support the correct handling of animals as defined in the Animal Welfare Act and in the Codes of Welfare, which are well supported with sound scientific evidence”, says Ritchie.