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21 August 1997
New Zealand's Emu Farmers and Ostrich Associations are looking to a draft Australian ostrich welfare code and an existing emu code to form the model from which to draft their own.
The proposed New Zealand code will also take into account guidelines and standards already developed in the United Kingdom and Europe. The draft code will be a guide for all people responsible for the welfare and husbandry of ostriches and emus breed or reared in captivity.
Lynley Daniel, representing emu farmers, and Gordon Banfield, representing ostrich farmers, said for a developing ostrich and emu industry, a welfare code will help farmers form good welfare practices from the outset.
"We want to start as we mean to carry on with a commitment to high welfare standards and not adopt practices which will require changing later. The welfare of the bird is our top priority, and overseas markets (for ostrich and emu meat) want to know the bird was not under any undue stress nor subjected to cruel production methods before they bought it," they said.
A joint committee of both association members will draft the welfare code which will, be submitted for approval to the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC). AWAC has already published a total of 19 welfare codes and has the ability to recommend the banning of inhumane husbandry practices in legislation. The Ministry of Agriculture will play a facilitation role in the code development, and the ostrich and emu industries will meet the initial drafting costs.
Ms Daniel and Mr Banfield said there are very few differences in raising ostriches and emus, apart from those arising from one bird being larger in size than the other. Ostriches and emus are kept in situations which vary from extensive grazing to systems involving housing pens and yards. Irrespective of the type of husbandry practised or the climate condition to which they are exposed, the basic behavioural and physiological needs of either bird are considered in the code.
The code will also cover aspects of caring for chicks, juveniles, yearlings and mature birds, intensive rearing, protection from hazards, food and water, fencing and yard facilities, health, inspections, transportation, hatchery management, and humane slaughter.
For further details contact:
Lynley Daniel, NZ Emu Farmers Association (03) 312 5524
Gordon Banfield, NZ Ostrich Association (09) 402 8368
Dr David Bayvel, MAF Regulatory Authority (04) 474 4251