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Animal Welfare Consultation Seeks Farmer Input

07 November 2013

NEW ZEALAND - The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC reviewed the Code to address concerns about the long-term housing of dairy cattle.

Key proposed amendments are:

• 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 from existing code, and replaced with a new section on off-pasture management systems.

Dr John Hellström, Chair of NAWAC, 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 Dr Hellström.

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 Dr Hellström.

This review was based on a substantive animal welfare risk assessment of off-pasture management systems in the New Zealand dairy industry.


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