FAQs related to Codes of Welfare

How is this strategy different to the Animal Welfare Compliance Plan

The Animal Welfare Compliance Plan Link to PDF document (292 KB) was developed in 2010 to improve compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (1999). MAF and a range of other organisations are currently implementing initiatives under the plan to support those who genuinely want to comply with their animal welfare obligations, and to encourage or compel those who do not.

The proposed animal welfare strategy will support and complement these initiatives, but we expect it to focus more broadly on New Zealand’s animal welfare system as a whole.

When will recommendations be made to the Government?

A strategy and proposed changes to legislation will be finalised and provided to Cabinet in the second half of 2012. From there, Cabinet will determine the timeline for changes to be approved and implemented.

When will the strategy and legislative change proposals be released for public consultation?

It is expected that strategy and legislation option documents will be released during a public consultation phase in the first half of 2012. Everyone will have the opportunity to express their views on the development of the strategy and legislative changes, and recommendations provided to the Government will take account of these views.

Who is on the advisory group?

The advisory group is made up of representatives with a range of animal welfare perspectives, including on farm; processing; consumer; science; veterinarian; animal advocacy; and marketing and trade perspectives.

Who is involved?

MAF is leading the development of the strategy and legislative amendment proposals. An advisory group of representatives with a range of perspectives on animal welfare matters has been set up to provide expertise as proposals are developed. The advisory group will meet regularly from July 2011.

Key partners and stakeholders involved in animal welfare in New Zealand will also be contacted to gain an understanding of their views about the system and the gaps that a strategy needs to fill.

There will be a public consultation phase in 2012 where everyone will have the opportunity to express their views on the development of the strategy and the proposed legislative changes. Recommendations provided to the Government will take account of these views.

When and how will the legislation review take place?

Work on the strategy will support a concurrent review of animal welfare legislation – in particular the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The Act has functioned well to support New Zealand’s animal welfare system to date, but requires review in some areas. Linking the legislation review with the strategy development will help ensure that the legislation fully supports New Zealand’s overarching animal welfare strategy.

Why is a strategy being developed?

A national strategy for New Zealand’s animal welfare system is being developed because, although our current animal welfare system has served us well, there is no explicit strategy setting out New Zealanders’ expectations for animal welfare. As society evolves, and animal welfare challenges continue to arise, the need for such a strategy increases, to help guide decisions and clarify the vision for New Zealand’s animal welfare system.

This strategy will also provide an opportunity to formalise the animal welfare systems currently in place and look at the roles and responsibilities of Government and other organisations so that we all have a shared understanding of how our systems can be improved over time.

Why haven't cages for hens been banned?

The requirements for keeping egg laying hens are described in the code of welfare for layer hens. The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which recommends codes of welfare to the Minister of Agriculture, looked at conflicting evidence for and against various production systems for egg laying hens when it was considering this code.

It decided that based on the limited information available about current alternatives to cages, it cannot be concluded that these alternatives guarantee better overall welfare for hens.

Alternative systems need very careful management to ensure adequate animal welfare. Although hens are free to roam and perform normal behaviours in these systems, cages provide some advantages over them. For example, hens are not exposed to adverse weather conditions or predators (eg harrier hawks) and fighting, dust, disease from faecal material, ammonia levels, and the cleanliness of eggs and birds is more easily managed.

NAWAC will review its decision in 2009. For detail on the reasons for its recommendation, see the reports (first Link to PDF document (133 KB) and second Link to PDF document (263 KB)) with the code of welfare for layer hens. For detail on the ways in which NAWAC makes decisions on codes of welfare, see the NAWAC guidelines.

Why are horses allowed to be whipped in races?

This falls under a specific provision controlled by the New Zealand Racing Conference or New Zealand Harness Racing Conference. For other horse users the provisions for use of the whip are spelt out in the Whips and spurs section of the code of minimum standards and recommendations for horses.

Are electric collars for dogs allowed?

  Yes, but under certain conditions. Minimum standards for the use of electric or electronic collars are in the code of welfare for dogs.

What are the rules for keeping animals in zoos?

A code of welfare for zoo animals came into force in January 2005. Codes of welfare contain minimum standards and may include recommended best practices. The code for zoo animals includes details on such things as animal management, food and water, housing and environment, behaviour and stress, health and disease, transport, and euthanasia. A copy of this code is available on this website and in your public library, or can be obtained by emailing animalwelfare@maf.govt.nz.

What are the rules for keeping animals in circuses?

A code of welfare for circus animals came into force in January 2005. Codes of welfare contain minimum standards and may include recommended best practices. The code for circus animals includes details on such things as the obligations of owners, circus operation, food and water, shelter, accommodation and housing, animal training and performances, disease and injury control, and transport. A copy of this code is available on this website and in your public library, or it can be obtained by emailing animalwelfare@maf.govt.nz.

What is/where can I find the animal welfare legislation in New Zealand?

Animal welfare legislation can be found at www.legislation.govt.nz (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz). Click on Statutes (which are listed alphabetically) and you will find the Animal Welfare Act. You can also purchase all legislation from Bennetts Bookshops.

Hard copies of the Guide to the Animal Welfare Act and the User’s Guide to Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (dealing with the use of animals in research, testing and teaching) can be obtained by emailing the Animal Welfare Group.

Codes of welfare can be found on this website or obtained by email. University libraries hold copies and you can request a copy from your public library.

What are the rules for shade and shelter for livestock?

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, people must attend to the physical, health and behavioural needs of animals in their care. These needs are further detailed in codes of welfare. Codes of welfare also contain minimum standards, including minimum standards on the provision of shade and shelter.

The provision of shade and shelter has important economic and practical implications for farmers. The issue of shade and shelter is not clear cut. Shelter and shade may be provided in a number of ways including the use of topographical features such as gullies or hollows (of adequate depth), natural features such as stands of trees or scrub, hedges or shelter belts, or artificial structures such as buildings, hay stacks, etc.

There is ongoing research on shade and shelter in New Zealand conditions, and NAWAC will be studying this research in order to make practical recommendations in new codes of welfare for farmed animals.

Why are live sheep and cattle shipments still allowed?

New Zealand exports a wide range of species including horses, deer, cats, dogs, bees, goats, day-old chicks, ferrets, wallabies, embryos and semen. Livestock are especially sought after because of their high genetic value and because New Zealand is free of most major exotic diseases. Animals are shipped live because they are used for breeding, or for slaughter in the country of arrival. Groups that are too large for transport by air may be taken by sea.

New Zealand is currently not shipping any cattle for slaughter, and the export of live sheep for slaughter has dwindled since the 1990s, with the last shipment being in 2003. It does, however, export cattle and sheep for breeding.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, all animals for export (unless specifically exempted) must be issued with an Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC), which takes account of animal welfare requirements and covers compliance with standards.

An experienced New Zealand stockman must accompany shipments of cattle. Some shipping companies also send veterinarians. All shipments are inspected by a MAF veterinarian before they depart.

A shipping report is completed at the end of each voyage which records any deaths, the weather, feed and water supplies, and any issues which affected the welfare of the animals.

Sea-bound shipments have additional requirements in the Maritime Rules, which are monitored by the Maritime Safety Authority. These cover ventilation, feed and water, space requirements, pen height requirements etc.

As a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), New Zealand has certain obligations under WTO agreements. New Zealand cannot prohibit the export of animals to other WTO member countries on the basis of management procedures in the country of importation.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is currently developing a code of welfare for the shipping of livestock.

Are gin traps banned in New Zealand?

After consultation the Government has decided to restrict the sale and use of leg-hold traps in New Zealand. New regulations came into effect on 1 January 2008.

Why aren't dry sow stalls and farrowing crates banned?

The requirements for keeping pigs are described in the code of welfare for pigs.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which recommends codes of welfare to the Minister of Agriculture, looked at conflicting evidence for and against various production systems for pigs when it was considering this code.

It decided that the current alternatives to these systems do not guarantee better welfare for pigs and may, in fact, reduce the welfare of the sows and/or their piglets. Alternative systems need very careful management to ensure adequate animal welfare.

Although pigs can be free to roam and perform normal behaviours in alternative systems, they can have some problems for the welfare of pigs. For example, aggression can be a problem in group-housed pigs and piglets can be crushed when sows lie down.

NAWAC will review its decisions in 2009.

For detail on the reasons for its recommendation, see the report Link to PDF document (173 KB) with the code of welfare for pigs.

For detail on the ways in which NAWAC makes decisions on codes of welfare, see the NAWAC guidelines.

Why have glueboards been declared 'restricted' traps?

Glueboard traps were declared 'restricted' traps due to animal welfare concerns over the pain and distress exhibited by captured rodents, the length of time that live animals may be left on the traps and the potential for the inhumane disposal of live captured animals.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

Can I use glueboards to catch insects?

Yes. Glueboards may continue to be used to control insects. However, placing a glueboard in such a way as to deliberately target a rodent is an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

I am a food retailer. Can I use glueboards to trap rodents?

No, only a person employed to conduct pest control on food production premises can use glueboard traps.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

I sell glueboards. How will the new regulations affect me?

Until 31 December 2014, you will be able to continue to sell glueboards. After that date, you will not be able to sell glueboards unless you have applied for and have been granted an approval from the Minister of Agriculture. Please note that the regulations prohibit use by anyone not in the categories specified in the Order.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

Can I apply for an exemption to use or sell a prohibited glueboard trap?

The Minister of Agriculture may approve the use or sale of a glueboard trap that would otherwise be prohibited only if he/she considers that the approval is in the public interest and no viable alternative is available in the circumstances. Matters in the public interest include for biosecurity, conservation, public health or animal health purposes.

Applications for an exemption must be made to the Director-General of MAF in the first instance. Applicants must provide relevant information to support their application. MAF cannot consider applications received without relevant supporting information.

An application form will shortly be available on the Traps and Devices page. On the form, please note the timeframes you are working to and whether your application is urgent. MAF will do its best to respond to applications within 15 working days.

Applications must be made in writing and addressed to:

Director-General
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
PO Box 2526
WELLINGTON

or by email to: animalwelfare@maf.govt.nz

What should I do if I see a glueboard trap for rodents being used in way that is not allowed?

Call MAF's animal welfare complaints hotline toll-free on 0800 008 333.

What is a glueboard trap?

The Animal Welfare (Glueboard Traps) Order 2009 defines these traps as follows:

"glueboard trap means a trap, whether or not commercially manufactured, consisting of an adhesive glue layer on a base material and that is intended to capture and hold live rodents."

Such traps used to target insects are not covered by this Order. Such traps used to target rodents are covered by this Order.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

What does 'close proximity to mammalian pest-free islands' mean in the Animal Welfare (Glueboard Traps) Order?

The Animal Welfare (Glueboard Traps) Order 2009 allows the use of glueboard traps for rodents by boat operators moving in close proximity to mammalian pest-free islands. This is so that islands that are free of rodent pests are not threatened by rodents that may be accidentally carried on boats and escape to swim ashore. This exemption is in place while the Department of Conservation explores alternatives to glueboard traps that are effective at capturing rodents on boats.

'Close proximity to mammalian pest-free islands' means near enough for rodents, of a kind that are not present on the island and are the target of the glueboard trap, to be able to swim from the boat to the island. In practice, this is within 1 km.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

Leg-hold traps cannot be used in areas where there is probable risk of catching a companion animal. What is 'probable risk'?

Generally, a risk is "probable" if it is more likely than not to occur.

Whether it is probable that a companion animal would be caught in a certain area is a matter of judgment dependent on the particular circumstances. In trapping operations, both the trapper and the person in charge of or overseeing the operation are responsible for making this decision and for ensuring leg-hold traps are not set where there is a "probable risk". Obvious places where there may be a probable risk include parks, recreational areas, beaches, other places where people walk their dogs and places where pets are known to be kept. Particular consideration should be made in rural areas, in and around riverbeds, in roadside reserves and in known hunting areas, as these are areas where there may be pets and pest control is likely to occur. Please note this list of places where there may be "probable risk" is not exhaustive and is by way of example.

Persons setting leg-hold traps should refer to local bylaws and dog control policies for areas where dogs must be kept on a leash or otherwise controlled. It should be noted that measures may be taken to reduce the risk of capture of companion animals so that there is no longer a "probable risk". Such measures include, but are not limited to, the use of cubbies or other means of exclusion and appropriate placement of traps. Signage can be considered but should not be the only measure.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

What should I do if I see a banned leg-hold trap being used, sold/set in an area where it is probable a pet would be caught?

Call MAF's animal welfare complaints hotline toll-free on 0800 008 333.

What does 'companion animal' mean in the Animal Welfare (Leg-hold Traps) Order?

An 'animal' (as defined by the Animal Welfare Act 1999) that is

    (a) Not a 'wild animal' (as defined by the Animal Welfare Act) or a 'pest' (as defined by the Animal Welfare Act) and that
    (b) lives with humans as a companion and is dependent on humans for its welfare.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.

Note: In the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz) (section 2):

"Animal" -

    (a) Means any live member of the animal kingdom that is -
    (i) A mammal; or
    (ii) A bird; or
    (iii) A reptile; or
    (iv) An amphibian; or
    (v) A fish (bony or cartilaginous); or
    (vi) Any octopus, squid, crab, lobster, or crayfish (including freshwater crayfish); or
    (vii) Any other member of the animal kingdom which is declared from time to time by the Governor-General, by Order in Council, to be an animal for the purposes of this Act;
    and
    (b) Includes any mammalian foetus, or any avian or reptilian pre-hatched young, that is in the last half of its period of gestation or development; and
    (c) Includes any marsupial pouch young; but
    (d) Does not include -
    (i)A human being; or
    (ii) Except as provided in paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of this definition, any animal in the pre-natal, pre-hatched, larval, or other such developmental stage.

"Pest" means -

    (a) Any animal in a wild state that, subject to subsection (2), the Minister of Conservation declares, by notice in the Gazette, to be a pest for the purposes of this Act:
    (b) Any member of the family Mustelidae (except where held under a licence under regulations made under the Wildlife Act 1953 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz)):
    (c) Any feral cat:
    (d) Any feral dog:
    (e) Any feral rodent:
    (f) Any feral rabbit:
    (g) Any feral hare:
    (h) Any grass carp:
    (i) Any Koi or European carp:
    (j) Any silver carp:
    (k) Any mosquito fish:
    (l) Any animal in a wild state that is a pest or unwanted organism within the meaning of the Biosecurity Act 1993 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz).

"Wild animal" has the meaning given to it by section 2(1) of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 (offsite link to www.legislation.govt.nz).

How do I apply for an exemption to use or sell a prohibited leg-hold trap?

The Minister of Agriculture may approve the use or sale of a leg-hold trap that would otherwise be prohibited only if he or she considers that the approval is in the public interest and no viable alternative is available in the circumstances. Matters in the public interest include for biosecurity, conservation, public health or animal health purposes.

Applications for an exemption must be made to the Director-General of MAF in the first instance. Applicants must provide relevant information to support their application. MAF will not be able to consider applications received without relevant supporting information.

An application form is available on Traps and Devices page. On the form, please note the timeframes you are working to and whether your application is urgent. MAF will endeavour to respond to applications within 15 working days.

Applications must be made in writing to:

  • Director-General
    Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
    PO Box 2526
    WELLINGTON

or by email to:

Does the code of welfare for dogs deal with permanent tethering or chaining of dogs?

The code of welfare requires dog owners and people in charge of dogs to provide daily exercise sufficient to meet the health and welfare needs of the individual dog. It also lays out requirements for food, water and appropriate shelter (including ventilation and cleanliness), and minimum standards for collars and tethering. Requirements are also laid out to avoid dogs becoming too thin (or fat) to an extent that it causes health and welfare problems for the dog.

Please note this information is provided by way of general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Parties are advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to particular fact situations.