New Zealand dairy industry under pressure on calf welfare

Code review opportunity to stop the worst cruelty

Many of us were absolutely horrified about the cruel treatment of calves, both overseas by NZ farmers and on our own farms here in Zealand. Shockingly it is still legal for farmers to bash calves to death with a hammer, or any other implement. This must stop.

Because they are not needed by the dairy industry, every year around 1.7 million calves are treated as mere waste products with little or no attention given to their welfare. These are bobby calves - vulnerable young animals no longer needed and brutally discarded.

The Government has now reacted to the massive public outcry surrounding the bludgeoning by proposing that blunt force trauma may not be used for the routine killing of unwanted dairy calves. They're seeking public consultation on the proposed changes.

Although it will not solve all the issues and there will still be millions of calves routinely killed as ‘waste products' it is a step in the right direction of recognising that the suffering of these baby animals matters.

March/April 2014