New code of welfare for commercial animal slaughter released

27 May 2010

The Animal Welfare (Commercial Slaughter) Code of Welfare 2010, issued today by the Minister of Agriculture, encourages all those involved in the commercial slaughter of animals to adopt welfare requirements to ensure animals are humanely killed.

The code covers all aspects of commercial slaughter (defined as the killing of animals where a business transaction takes place) and comes into effect from 28 May 2010.

It applies to everyone responsible for the welfare of animals being commercially slaughtered, including primary processors, homekill service providers, pet food operators and anyone operating a business where animals are killed for human consumption. The code does not apply to on-farm slaughter for personal consumption, or the killing of animals for pest control or recreational hunting.

National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) Chairman John Hellstrom says the code provides clear guidelines with regard to the way people care for animals beyond the farm.

"It sets out general principles and recommendations for best practice, ensuring animals do not suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain and distress when they are killed."

"New Zealand's excellent animal health and welfare status is vigorous. The commercial slaughter code of welfare is another component to a system ensuring animals are treated appropriately from farm to fork."

Included in the code are requirements for pre-slaughter handling facilities, procedures to minimise animal stress; and processes to ensure immediate loss of consciousness during stunning to prevent animals from feeling pain. Minimum standards include:

  • approved stunning methods and processes for all mammals and birds;
  • handling and killing procedures for crabs, crayfish and freshwater crayfish, whether commercially farmed or wild-caught;
  • handling and killing procedures for farmed and wild-captured finfish (including eels) caught and held for killing at a later time, such as in a restaurant;
  • the need for each slaughter premise to implement a quality assurance programme

"The code requires all animals slaughtered commercially in New Zealand to be stunned prior to killing. This is to ensure animals at slaughter are treated humanely and in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge.

Animals are killed for meat everyday for New Zealanders and international markets. Treating animals humanely, especially at the time of killing or death, is fundamental to good animal welfare" says John Hellstrom.

NAWAC was established by the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The Committee has a number of prescribed functions including providing advice to the Minister on any matter pertaining to the welfare of animals, identifying research requirements, advice on legislative matters and the development of codes of welfare.

The Commercial Slaughter Code is available online at or by request from

  • Issued by:
    Helen Keyes, Communications Manager, Phone: 029 894 0161


Last Updated: 22 September 2010

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33