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New regulations for calves – avoiding another kick in the guts for good farmers


Over the past few years, farmers have been criticised for practices relating to bobby calves.  


Covert filming and negative news items can portray farmers in a bad light.  This is frustrating for those who follow best practice.  Farmers generally care greatly for their stock, but the rural image suffers when the actions of the few let the industry down.


The Ministry for Primary Industries has responded to the criticism by creating the Animal Welfare (Calves) Regulations 2016.  These Regulations are being implemented in three stages between August 2016 – August 2017.


The Regulations contain key standards for the care and transport of calves. Failure to comply may result in fines of between $500 - $25,000.


It is now a farmer’s obligation to assess if a calf is ‘fit for transport’, and this needs to be re-checked just prior to collection to ensure the calf’s condition has not changed.


The farmer must also record the calf’s “last feed on farm”, and provide this information to the transport operator.  Once at the slaughterhouse, calves must be processed within 24 hours of the last feed on farm.  So, the transport operator must advise this information to the processor.


Once calves are cleared for transport, farmers need to ensure that calves are housed in a holding pen that provides shelter, water, ventilation, and is large enough for calves to stand and lie down. The holding pen also needs to be raised or have suitable ramps to allow calves to walk onto the truck without assistance. This may require a new or altered loading facility and shelter to be built at the farm.


For most farmers, the new Regulations will not require significant change. However, effective communication with your transport operator, processor, and livestock agent is key to achieving good animal welfare.


For advice on how the Regulations may affect you, or for any other rural legal matters, contact us at Dewhirst Law.  We understand your business and provide top legal advice at country, not city, prices.