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Tuesday, 09 July 2019 10:38

Speak up on proposed animal welfare rules

Written by  Mark Daniel

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wants submissions on clearer rules for ‘significant surgical procedures’ as in the Animal Welfare Act of 1999.


With exports of animal or animal products valued at $28.6 billion (year to June 2018), MPI says New Zealand needs high animal welfare standards to protect our reputation worldwide.

MPI and the SPCA mostly enforce the rules under the Act. They jointly investigate about 16,000 complaints each year. NZ Police also has power to enforce the rules.

Fines for infringement can be up to $50,000 or up to 12 months in prison for individuals, and fines up to $250,000 for a corporate.

The 1999 Act was amended in 2015 to improve the enforceability, clarity and transparency of the animal welfare system. Those amendments have progressed in three lots:

  • The first, in 2016, covered bobby calves and the export of livestock for slaughter
  • The second, in 2018, was on the care and conduct of animals
  • The third and final lot, now being discussed, looks at ‘significant surgical procedures’, i.e. who may do procedures on animals and in what circumstances.

The proposed changes will, if adopted, take effect on May 9, 2020.

MPI says the regulatory proposals build on submissions received in 2016, with 26 proposals either new or markedly different from the 2016 starting point.

  • The proposals are in six sections:
  • Section A - animal husbandry, affecting cattle, sheep, pigs and goats
  • Section B - equids such as horses and donkeys
  • Section C - poultry and game fowl
  • Section D - animals in research, teaching and testing environments
  • Section E & F - electric prodders, pain relief and ‘competent persons’.

Some proposals are on farmers giving animals pain relief or local anaesthesia for, say, disbudding or de-horning as authorised by a vet. 

For the equine industry, some proposals are for some procedures to be vet-only, so precluding work by veterinary technicians like equine dentists. Equine teeth extractions are reckoned vet-only.

Deadline for submissions: July 24, 2019. Feedback can be made via an online survey accessed at, or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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