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New laws to protect bobby calves announced

13 June 2016

New regulations to strengthen the law around the management and treatment of bobby calves are planned to be in place before the 2016 spring calving season, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

"Most farmers care for their animals and do a good job of looking after them. However, it's important we have clear rules and enforcement in place. Animal welfare is important not just to animals, but to consumers and our export markets," he says.

"The new, strengthened regulations will go to Cabinet for final approval shortly. I want to give farmers, transport operators and processors advance warning of these changes before the start of the calving season."

The changes include:

  • Requiring that young calves must be at least four days of age and physically fit before they are transported for sale or slaughter.
  • Setting a maximum duration of 12 hours' journey time for young calves being transported for sale or slaughter.
  • Prohibiting the transport of young calves by sea across the Cook Strait.
  • Prohibiting the killing of any calves by use of blunt force trauma, except in an emergency situation.

"These regulations follow two months of public consultation and were widely supported. Our aim is to have them in place by early August."

Three further regulations will be introduced under a delayed start to ensure enough time to make the business changes necessary. These regulations include:

  • Requiring that young calves must be fed at least once in the 24 hours prior to slaughter.  (1 Feb 2017)
  • Requiring that suitable shelter be provided for young calves before and during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter. (August 2017)
  • Requiring that loading and unloading facilities be provided and used when young calves are transported for sale and slaughter. (August 2017).

"The new regulations are part of a suite of wider initiatives being undertaken by government and all of the industries involved with bobby calves to ensure best practice.

"They also provide MPI with a wider set of compliance tools including the ability to impose direct fines for lower level offending, and a wider set of offences to undertake formal prosecutions against."

An additional $10 million of funding was allocated for animal welfare in last year's Budget, to support implementation of regulations from the Animal Welfare Amendment Act which was passed last year, Mr Guy says. 

Last updated on the 16th September 2019