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New bobby calf regulations ‘lack vision’

August 1st, 2016

New regulations on the treatment of bobby calves come into force today, with animal advocates calling the new rules mediocre at best. The regulations include some changes to transport and shelter rules for the animals.

The regulations created by the Ministry for Primary Industries are an update on previous codes of welfare that were not easily enforceable. The new regulations are a combination of new standards and old standards with improved enforcement capability.

Changes in the regulations with immediate effect:

  • Calves must not be transported for more than 12 hours (previously no limit).*
  • Calves must not be transported across the Cook Strait.

 * The first draft of the proposed rules suggested eight hours, but the final regulation was weakened.

Changes in the regulations subject to a delay:

  • Calves must be fed in the 24 hours prior to slaughter (down from 30).
    • Subject to a delay until 1st February 2017.
  • Loading and unloading facilities must be provided when transporting calves.
    • Subject to a delay until 1st August 2017.
  • Shelter must be provided for calves before, during, and after transport.
    • Subject to a delay until 1st August 2017.

Existing rules with enforcement improvements:

  • Calves must be at least four days old before transport.
  • Calves must not be killed by blunt force trauma, except in emergencies.

 

Issues that remain:

  • Throwing calves is not explicitly banned, as it is in Europe.
  • Calf inductions are not explicitly banned.
  • Starving calves for up to 24 hours prior to slaughter is permitted.
  • No monitoring programmes will be put in place.
  • Calves are still separated from their mothers.

 “At the end of the day, the government can write down whatever rules it wants, but they mean nothing if there is nobody checking on these farms,” says SAFE Campaigns Officer Shanti Ahluwalia. “The government needs to implement regular random inspections.”

“When it comes to animal welfare, the Ministry for Primary Industries lacks any sort of vision,” says Mr Ahluwalia. “They’re trumpeting these new rules, but what do they really mean for the animals? You may ‘only’ starve a calf for up to 24 hours?”

“It is alarming to see the government making such a fuss over the requirement that calves are four days old prior to transport,” says Mr Ahluwalia. “This was already a requirement, and the government should not be trying to tout it as an improvement.”

Faced with ‘mediocre’ regulations and the fact that calves must be taken from their mothers to produce milk, SAFE is renewing its call for the public to try alternatives to dairy products. A dairy-free pledge is available on their website.

 

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