Bobby calf programme begins
29 July 2010
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is planning proactive animal welfare work in the bobby calf area this season, starting Monday.
Building on from a similar programme last year, MAF’s Animal Welfare Investigators will be working in conjunction with industry groups such as the Road Transport Association, New Zealand Veterinary Association, Fonterra and Federated Farmers to expand on efforts to engage with farmers about bobby calves and provide advice.
Alan Wilson, Team Manager Animal Welfare Investigations says “Calving season is upon us and ultimately, we need farmers, and all those involved in the process chain, to be aware of their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act and follow best practice guidelines for the management of calves” says Alan.
“Non compliance with the Act is unacceptable and animal welfare is a serious priority. Last years programme was a success and we found that farmers want to do the right thing, and understand that everyone has a role to play in ensuring the welfare of their animals.”
Alan says the purpose of the programme is to gather field information about bobby calf care and selection pre transport; feeding; and euthanasia.
“Last year we focused predominantly on being present at the point of collection in selected regions. This meant that the available time to assess on-farm facilities and practices and to engage with farmers directly was limited.”
“The focus this year (2010 season) is to extend the work nationally and allow staff to have more time to engage directly with farmers, improve the quality of data collected and to increase the number of farms visited. It won’t be possible for individual farmers to be pre-notified but it will allow better opportunities for engagement with those directly dealing with bobby calves.”
“Further data will be collected for comparison with previous years so that a good picture of the welfare of bobby calves in New Zealand can be put together – this will help us move away from having to rely on anecdotal evidence.”
MAF visited more than 200 farms during last years programme of work and is looking to increase that number this year, including revisiting and re inspecting those farms found to have poor bobby calf practices last year.
“We look forward to the results of this years programme and believe this initiative is another step in the right direction for agencies and industry bodies to work together and share information and resources to improve compliance” says Alan.
For more information about industry best practice guidelines for bobby calves click here to visit the DairyNZ website .
Lisa Gibbison, Senior Communications Adviser
Phone: 04 894 0432 or 029 894 0432