New regulations for bobby calves

DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago

DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago

New regulations announced in June 2016 around the management and treatment of bobby calves come as the dairy industry gears up for the calving season.

We all know it is a team effort to ensure all calves are treated with care and respect, from birth to beyond the farm gate. Dairy farmers are required to only present calves that are fit for transport – and there are eight criteria to tick before calves go out the gate.

These criteria include being at least four days old (measured from separation), having upright ears and bright eyes (indicators of good health), a correct eartag, a dry navel, no scours, worn hooves, the ability to stand and walk, and a full tummy.

Meeting the criteria is important for animal welfare and being a responsible industry. Playing your part in ensuring calves are fit for transport also makes it easier for transporters to do their job.

At DairyNZ, we see that animal welfare is at the heart of any good farming business and we know the vast majority of dairy farmers take immense pride in the care of all their animals.

Insisting on the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare on our farms is good for our animals, our people, our farms and our industry.

DairyNZ is supporting farmers in making any changes by working closely with others in the supply chain to ensure high standards, helping farmers make sure calves are fit for transport and ensuring they have suitable facilities for loading.

The work is part of the Bobby Calf Action Group programme and will add to existing measures to ensure everyone involved with bobby calves applies best practice in their handling and care.

The Bobby Calf Action Group includes DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, Road Transport Forum, New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

New regulations

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The new regulations span the whole supply chain and will go to Cabinet for final approval. The first of these regulations are planned to be in place for this calving season and are:

•    that young calves must be at least four days of age and physically fit before they are transported for sale or slaughter

•    setting a maximum duration of 12 hours journey time for young calves being transported for sale or slaughter

•    prohibiting the transport of young calves by sea across the Cook Strait

•    prohibiting the killing of any calves by use of blunt force trauma, except in an emergency situation.

Most farmers already meet these regulations due to having good processes and practices in place which mainly match the existing minimum standards. 

Three further regulations will be introduced next year. These refer to feeding before slaughter, shelter and loading facilities.

In readiness we have prepared guidelines for sheltered raised loading facilities that allow calves to walk onto the truck. Farmers are reminded that bobby collection should be off the roadside.

Bobby calf info

For advice, resources and training events to help farmers meet their obligations around calving and calf care:

For further information of the new regulations, visit the Ministry for Primary Industries website:

 - Stuff

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