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26 August 2008
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) issued its 2007 Annual Report today.
Discussions on the key indicators for assessing animal welfare and the development of Codes of Welfare were the main focus of NAWAC's work in 2007.
The development of a Code of Welfare for the commercial slaughter of animals involved a detailed examination of the available research, careful attention to the details of law and consultation with affected partners.
"Completing the code required, resolving a number of difficult issues through careful examination of the available research, attention to the requirements of the law and consultation with affected parties," says Dr Peter O'Hara, Chairman of NAWAC.
NAWAC's discussions on key indicators for assessing animal welfare resulted in a commitment, as far is possible, to write minimum standards as statements of welfare outcomes to be achieved from the animal's perspective rather than as prescriptions of facilities e.g. the size of cages.
The committee acknowledged the need to be able to measure or assess the welfare status of animals and in particular whether the intended outcomes have been achieved. The wider ideal is to objectively distinguish between "acceptable" and "good" welfare.
"There is an emerging demand by society and consumers for assurances of good or acceptable animal welfare for the animal products they use or consume", says Dr O'Hara.
The Committee endorsed an outcome-based minimum standards approach to writing the broiler and layer hen Codes of Welfare, which were considered ideally suited because of the extensive body of research on the welfare of poultry and the indicators of good and bad welfare outcomes.
Other achievements included NAWAC's recommendation that leg holds traps be banned. Regulations came into effect on 1 January 2008. No leg-hold traps can be used within 150 metres of a dwelling or in any area where there is a probable risk of catching a pet animal. The sale of all leg-hold traps of size 1 ½ or larger is now prohibited, with the exception of commercially made size 1 ½ padded-jaw double-coil traps.
NAWAC is an independent advisory committee to the Minister of Agriculture. The committee was established under section 56 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to provide advice to the Minister on matters relating to the welfare of animals in New Zealand and to develop codes of welfare.
A copy of the annual report is available at
www.biosecurity.govt.nz/animal-welfare/nawac or by request from
MAF Biosecurity New Zealand
Phone: 0-4-894 0161 or 029-894 0161