20 Oct 2013

Anger over planned revision of code of welfare for dairy cattle

5:03 pm on 20 October 2013

A planned revision of the country's code of welfare for dairy cattle is attracting an angry reaction from the animal welfare group, SAFE, which says it is legalising a cruel form of factory farming.

The changes are being proposed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, which is an independent advisory committee to the Minister for Primary Industries.

But SAFE executive director Hans Kriek says the committee's recommended draft code allows for the confinement of dairy cows to indoor factory farms year round.

"It means that cows will never walk on grass again, that they will be kept indoors standing on concrete, so we are very concerned, we also believe that this is very bad for New Zealand's reputation."

Mr Kriek says New Zealanders are increasingly speaking out against factory farming practices such as battery hen cages and crate farming for pigs.

Meanwhile, National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee chairperson John Hellstrom says "off-pasture management systems", including purpose built housing for cattle, are becoming more common in New Zealand.

Dr Hellstrom says farmers are already seeing the benefits of these systems in effluent management, feed intake, winter shelter and pasture protection.

However, he says facilities have to be designed and managed with the welfare of the animals in mind.

Public submissions on the revisions to the code close on 3 December.