Inadequate enforcement

Despite the disturbing level of animal welfare problems and documented animal abuse within the dairy industry, prosecution for neglect or abuse on farms is rare.

The Ministry for Primary Industries considers prosecution to be a last resort, with ‘getting a farm back on track’ being the normal priority. Here are some of the few prosecutions that have occurred:

  • At two farms operated by Invercargill-based Castlerock Dairies Ltd., a staggering 193 cows had to be euthanized, and another 761 required treatment, mostly for lameness, in 2017. Almost 100 others had ingrown horns. More than 1,000 cows were affected, out of a population of approximately 4,000. Despite committing offences at the extreme end of the scale, the farmers responsible each received only 275 hours of community work, and a $10,000 fine plus costs. Far from being disqualified to work with animals, these men have gone on to work for other farms. The corporation received a $37,500 fine plus $11,500 costs – less than $50,000 in total.
  • A South Waikato farmer, who starved cows to death, was given community service, a fine and disqualified from owning cows for just two years.
  • A farm manager was convicted of very severe cruelty to animals. Cows were beaten, had their tails broken, and were shot in the kneecaps. He was given the largest New Zealand sentence ever delivered for animal cruelty: four and a half years. This is exceptional.
  • A Taranaki farm manager was fined more than $3,500 for cutting off the teats of 12 cows with a pair of scissors and no pain relief.
  • A West Coast dairy farmer was fined $15,000 and banned from having contact with milking cows for six months, for breaking the tails of two cows and failing to get veterinary treatment for another 210 cows with broken tails.
  • A slaughterhouse worker at Down Cow Ltd was convicted of kicking, punching and throwing calves, and another worker was convicted of dragging calves across a concrete floor, following an exposė by Farmwatch and SAFE.
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