15 Apr 2016

Advocates call animal rights plan 'farce'

1:01 pm on 15 April 2016

Proposed new animal welfare regulations - including to improve bobby calf treatment - are a complete farce, an animal rights group says.

Organic Jersey cow and calf on a Rongotea farm.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seeking feedback on 85 proposed rule changes, which include taking greater care of bobby calves and fining dog owners who leave their pets in hot vehicles.

Bobby calf abuse made headlines last year when animal rights groups SAFE and Farmwatch released video footage, showing calves thrown on trucks and bashed at a slaughterhouse before being killed.

SAFE campaigns officer Shanti Ahluwalia said the proposed regulations didn't go far enough, because bobby calves would still be able to be transported at four days old.

He said this fell well short of the European standard of 10 to 14 days.

"Given the level of uproar that we saw last year after the dairy expose, we would've expected that they really would've lifted the standards further," Mr Ahluwalia said.

He also said the consultation period, which ends on 19 May, was too short.

"What we would normally do in these circumstances is we would see the proposals they're putting forward, we would go review the scientific evidence and put together a really strong proposal of ways they could improve the lives of those animals.

"But of course what they've done here is they've given us so many rules to consider, we cannot possibly consider the needs of 100 million animals in the space of five weeks," he said.

The ministry's director of biosecurity and animal welfare, Julie Collins, is encouraging feedback.

"The four days policy is what's in our existing minimum standards in the codes of welfare, but we want feedback on that point," she said.

"We want feedback from everybody with an interest on animals and animal welfare and we want to know are we getting the balance right."

Ms Collins said the ministry has been consulting with animal welfare groups, and they would still have a say before public consultation ended.

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