Dairy cows enjoy high-quality feed mixed to their own
requirements in a housed environment. Photo by Ruth Grundy
People are urged to have their say about the long-term
housing of dairy cattle so minimum standards can be set to
reflect best practice and New Zealand's animal welfare
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (Nawac) is
asking people to put forward their views as part of its
consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy
Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.
Nawac is New Zealand's independent animal welfare advisory
committee to the minister for primary industries. It has
reviewed the code specifically to address long-term housing
of dairy cattle.
The key amendments proposed are the addition of a section to
address behavioural needs for all dairy cattle. And the
outdated sections about stand-off areas and feed pads, and
housing cows and calves, are to be removed and replaced with
a new section about off-pasture management systems.
Nawac chairman John Hellstrom said the code had to be updated
because off-pasture management systems for dairy cattle,
including purpose-built housing, were 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,'' Dr Hellstrom said.
Nawac had worked with dairying, science and veterinary
experts to draw up the proposed changes so farmers
considering such systems could make sure the animal welfare
needs of cattle were met.
The review was based on an animal welfare risk assessment of
off-pasture management systems to ensure proposals were based
on the most recent science.
''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,'' Dr Hellstrom said.
Submissions close on December 3.
Nawac will also use the submissions to inform future advice
to the primary industries minister on regulations for
livestock housing, for if the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill
goes ahead. This Bill is under consideration by the Primary
Production Select Committee at present.
For information on making submissions, visit the Ministry for
Primary Industries website: http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/biosec/consult