Friday, 18 October 2013 14:13

Changes to dairy welfare code

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The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) says it is addressing concerns about the long-term housing of dairy cattle.

NAWAC is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC chair Dr John Hellström says that off-pasture management systems for dairy cattle, including purpose-built housing, are becoming increasingly common in New Zealand.

"Farmers are already seeing the benefits of these systems in effluent management, feed intake monitoring, winter shelter and pasture protection. However, facilities have to be designed and managed with the welfare of the animals in mind," says Hellström.

Key proposed amendments to the code include a new section to address behavioural needs for all dairy cattle - where NAWAC considers that the behavioural requirements for cattle kept on pasture are the same as those for dairy cattle kept in off-pasture management systems; and Sections 4.4 Stand-off Area and Feed pads and 4.5 Housing cows and calves are removed.

This review was based on a substantive animal welfare risk assessment of off-pasture management systems in the New Zealand dairy industry.NAWAC worked with dairying, science and veterinary experts on the proposed changes to ensure the animal welfare needs of cattle are met when farmers are considering these systems.

"We expect a lot of interest on this issue. It's important that people express their views on these proposals so that we can ensure any new minimum standards reflect not only best practice, but also New Zealand's animal welfare expectations," says Hellström.

For information on making submissions, visit the MPI website:

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