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14 August, 1997
A revised bobby calf welfare code recommends calves be slaughtered as soon as possible after their last feed - ideally within 12 hours, preferably within 24 hours, and definitely within 30 hours.
A bobby calf is a calf which is at least four days old and is destined for slaughter for human consumption.
This is the first time a timeframe for the humane slaughter of bobby calves has been specified. The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee's (AWAC) revised Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Bobby Calves has been released to the public.
The code emphasises that careful planning is required between the farmers, transport operators and processors, to ensure the time after which a recently fed calf is
transported and held prior to slaughter is minimised. Calves in the first few weeks of life tend to suck frequently, and although healthy strong calves can withstand the rigours of handling and transport, the longer they are without food the more vigorous are their efforts to seek food.
It is an offence under the Animals Protection Act 1960 to allow an animal to suffer unnecessary or unreasonable pain or distress. The breach of a code provision whilst not an offence in itself, can be used to establish the guilt of someone accused of causing an animal suffering under the Act.
AWAC member and vice-president of Federated Farmers Alistair Polson, said the code should help the growing number of new entrants in the bobby calves trade.
"The number of calves being processed and new players in the processing game havedoubled and the code should clear up any of the discrepancies. AWAC is concerned about an animal's welfare but at the same time is not blind to market perception. The codes demonstrates to our trading partners our good industry practices."
The code covers all aspects of calf welfare from birth to slaughter, which are unique to bobby calves, such as feeding, good husbandry, housing and shelter, diseases, standards for transporting, loading, unloading, handling, duration of journey, inspections, humane slaughter, and the responsibilities of the farmer, transport operator and processor. This includes the legal ramifications for submitting a bobby calf for slaughter, which has excess levels of chemical residues. It involves fines of up to $20,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a farm run as a company. Codes are revised to take into account changes in practices of animal management and knowledge of animal welfare science.
The Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) was established in 1989 by the then Minister of Agriculture to advise him on matters concerning animal welfare. Its members include people from farming backgrounds, animal welfare groups, the veterinary profession, animal welfare science, conservation and vertebrate pest control, consumer interests, animal welfare law and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC).
For further information or a copy of the code contact:
Kate Horrey, AWAC Secretary, PO Box 2526, Wellington,
or phone: (04) 4744296, or fax: (04) 4744133.