SPCA warnings over livestock sales
SPCA inspections of Canterbury livestock saleyards have resulted in two written warnings for cattle arriving in poor condition.
Inspectors found a calf with a broken leg and another lame animal and issued warnings to farm managers, stock agents and truck drivers.
In both cases the level of offending was serious enough to result in charges being laid, but for now the SPCA is giving the sector a short period of leniency during an awareness programme to ensure minimum standards are set.
Inspectors visited saleyards at Canterbury Agricultural Park and at Coalgate, and plan to carry out more inspections.
SPCA Canterbury manager Barry Helem said the society had begun the saleyards programme to be more proactive in educating farmers, stock agents and truck drivers about animal welfare.
He said the visits had been well-received by farmers and livestock were found to be in good condition with the exception of the two injured animals.
SPCA was particularly looking at the transport of animals to ensure there were no breaches of the Animal Welfare Act, he said.
"They were clear breaches but, given its early days in the programme, we want to give farmers and agents time to put systems in place. That leniency won't last forever and at some time we will have to enforce the act if there are further breaches."
Animal welfare manager Geoff Sutton, said animals arriving unfit at saleyards could not be sold or transported away and this would result in a bigger problem and additional pain and distress for the animal.
The society deals with about 50 animal welfare complaints a month.
In the past most of them have been centred on urban companion animals, chiefly dogs and cats, but lately there has been an increasing trend of more investigations in the rural sector.
Helem said this change could be a result of more people reporting animals in distress as they drove past farm gates and the society was there to protect all animals, not just dogs and cats.
He said most farmers looked after their animals because they enjoyed working with them and it was commercially advantageous for them to be in good condition.
The SPCA found breaches were often more common in livestock blocks and properties occupied during weekends than commercial farms.
Helem said SPCA would be visiting more livestock sales.
"When we know there are sales happening we will endeavour to get there . . . We are there for the animals and the more we can do to alleviate any suffering is good for them."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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