Big improvements in bobby calf welfare in New Zealand
“The Ministry for Primary Industries has vets at nearly every processing facility and in the 2016 season the mortality rate for bobby calves between farm and processing has more than halved, from 0.25 percent to 0.12 percent.
“This is a major drop of just over 50 percent and shows that new regulations and education campaigns have made a real difference. As well as the big drop in mortality, calves are also arriving in much better health and condition.
“This is also a significant drop from 2008 when the mortality rate was 0.68 percent.
“The wider industry and MPI have put a lot of work into improving practices over recent years and they deserve recognition for this.
“While there are still a few in the industry who need to improve their behaviour, this provides strong evidence that things are improving.
“This is the first season with tighter new rules and regulations for handling bobby calves. From 1 August this year it will also be a requirement to have loading and unloading facilities when young calves are transported for sale and slaughter and appropriate shelter.
“I want to acknowledge the industry groups who formed a Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 including DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Road Transport Forum, Meat Industry Association, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association and MPI.
“As a Government we have strengthened the animal welfare system with $10 million in new funding in 2015 and passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Act to improve compliance and enforcement.” ■