October 21, 2019

New Zealand amends welfare standards for dairy cattle


An amendment to the code of welfare for dairy cattle sets out new standards in New Zealand to ensure farmers meet their animals' behavioral needs and adopt high levels of care, a spokesperson for the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) said last week.

NAWAC is an independent committee formed to give advice on animal welfare to the minister of agriculture.

"Meeting behavioral needs is essential for dairy cattle welfare. It is very important that dairy cattle can lie down and rest in all management systems, including on pasture, on crops, and in off-paddock facilities," National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) chairperson Gwyneth Verkerk said.

"Dairy cattle like to lie down where it is comfortable and dry. They refuse to lie down on hard, wet or muddy ground and can become stressed as a result," Verkerk added.

The amendment requires high levels of husbandry when keeping dairy cattle in off-paddock facilities, including feed-pads, stand-off pads, wintering pads, and loose-housed and free-stall barns.

The new standards will come into effect on October 31.