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Minister orders review of calf euthanasia practice

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is considering prohibiting blunt force being used to euthanise bobby calves on dairy farms.

“After speaking to industry leaders, I have asked the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to consider an amendment to the Animal Welfare Code of Welfare 2010,” Mr Guy says in a statement.

NAWAC will begin public consultation soon on the proposed amendment. A final decision will be made in mid-year after receiving final advice.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 it is an offence to kill an animal in such a manner that it suffers unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

In January, NBR ONLINE revealed that Chilean authorities are investigating New Zealand dairy company Manuka for allegedly slaughtering 6000 bobby calves using methods many observers perceive as unethical.

On the back of the investigation, video footage was aired on New Zealand news earlier this month showing New Zealander Zach Ward – reported to be Manuka’s production manager at the time – smashing a bobby calf to death with a hammer.

The footage drew outrage from members of the public, after which New Zealand’s own code for the ethical killing of bobby calves came under the spotlight.

Standards for the treatment and killing of animals on the farm are laid out, in part, across three codes of welfare introduced in the last four years.

The codes of welfare for commercial slaughter, dairy cattle, and transport within New Zealand all set standards to promote calf welfare.

During the development of these codes of welfare, NAWAC considered how to best protect calf welfare across the farming, transport, and meat processing industries.

Industry bodies DairyNZ and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) have both come out in support of Mr Guy’s initiative.

“We are keen to work with the Government to ensure robust and practical codes. We also want to work together to make sure the rules are understood by farmers,” Dr Rick Pridmore of DairyNZ said in a statement.

“The aim is always to minimise unnecessary suffering.  Farmers using any method must be suitably trained and skilled.” 

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Comments and questions

The city dwellers have no idea of how ugly it is to farm and treat all animals like their pet cat. A virtually instant death from a sharp blow has been the traditional practice for killing bobby calves and showing it on TV only upsets those not knowledgable.