Bobby calves and pigs not protected by new rules: SAFE
Animal welfare campaigner SAFE says new proposed rules do not go far enough to protect livestock.
Among its criticisms are that the regulations would allow bobby calves to be transported at four days old rather than the 10-14 days standard in Europe, and that sows would still be kept in farrowing crates.
SAFE maintains that these crates breach animal welfare legislation but the pork industry disagrees, saying they are considered a humane method of preventing sows from crushing their piglets.
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee has recently revised pig standards and will announce those next week, including recommendations on farrowing.
Released by the Ministry for Primary Industries on Thursday, the new regulations propose:
· Infringement notices of $300 or $500 for low-level offending;
· clarifying who may perform surgical or painful procedures on animals, and under what conditions;
· new rules for handling bobby calves, including raised areas for loading and trucking distance restrictions;
· more powers for the Director-General of MPI around reporting of animal welfare when live animals are exported for breeding purposes.
The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) backed the Government proposals as representing a positive move to reinforce the animal welfare system.
Executive director Kimberley Crewther said last year New Zealand had been rated first equal globally by the World Animal Protection Group, alongside the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
SAFE campaigns officer Shanti Ahluwalia said the ranking was more based on the legislation countries had passed, and not how they enforced the rules.
Crewther said there were protocols for dealing with bobby calves and how they were transported.
Ahluwalia criticised the New Zealand dairy industry approach of removing calves from their mothers four days and fewer after birth.
By contrast, Europeans had set a standard of between 10-14 days.
Last year during the midst of the bobby calf furore, a veterinarian said it was preferable to remove a calf from day one because the bond created between the cow and her calf made it difficult for both.
SAFE has also criticised the five-week period for the public to comment on the proposals as "deliberately not giving the public enough time to consult on these issues".
"It is absurd to believe that we can give proper consideration to over 100 pages of regulations in the five-week timeframe they have given us,"Ahluwalia said.
Feedback is sought on the proposals by May 19. For more information, visit www.mpi.govt.nz.