Grazing "not normal behaviour for dairy cows" say Government advisors

New draft code of welfare lets cows down

Proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cows released will see cows confined to indoor factory farms for life.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) today released its recommendations about the welfare and housing of dairy cows. The draft code allows for the year round indoor confinement of dairy cows.

"NAWAC's recommendations will condemn thousands of dairy cows to a life in crowded sheds on concrete floors. The animals will never walk on grass or experience life outdoors," says SAFE Executive Director Hans Kriek. "NAWAC once again fails to uphold the principles of New Zealand's animal welfare legislation and is legalising this country's newest form of factory farming."

"The Animal Welfare Act requires that animals be able to display their normal behaviour. Research shows that dairy cows graze between five and ten hours per day yet bizarrely NAWAC appears not to recognize grazing as an essential behavioural need. This is utterly ridiculous and brings into question the competence of this committee."

SAFE is concerned that the proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cows will lead to a rapid intensification of the dairy industry and will result in increased suffering for the cows. In general, cows farmed indoors suffer from higher levels of mastitis and lameness than cows that have access to pasture.

 The key points are:

  • Grazing in a paddock is normal behaviour, and cows should be allowed to do it.
  • Cows should not be confined for extended periods of time.
  • Cows should be given shelter, as long as they are allowed to leave.

During the submission period SAFE urged concerned members of the public to make a submission speaking out against the indoor housing of dairy cows by making a simple submission to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Submissions closed 3 December.

December 2013