All animal welfare codes

Find out about codes of welfare for animals, their relationship to the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and how they help improve animal management and care.

Codes form part of the Animal Welfare Act

Owners or people in charge of animals must comply with the:

  • Animal Welfare Act 1999 
  • minimum standards for animal care and management in codes of welfare
  • regulations issued under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

The codes are issued under the Act but appear separate from the Act because with so many different types of animals and situations, it is impractical to include them all in the Act. It would make for lengthy and unwieldy legislation.

Using the codes

More than one code of welfare might be relevant for a particular situation. For example, when transporting sheep, both the sheep and beef cattle code of welfare, and the transport within New Zealand code of welfare apply.

Codes of welfare also have recommended best practices. These recommendations set out standards of care and conduct, over and above the minimum required to meet the obligations in the Act. They are included to encourage higher standards of animal welfare.

Although relevant regulations are referenced in the codes, there may be other regulations that are relevant to you. Check the full list of animal welfare regulations where appropriate.

Legally-speaking

If you are charged with an offence under the Act:

  • evidence of your failure to meet a relevant minimum standard in a code may be used to support the prosecution
  • your defence may include evidence that you equalled or exceeded the minimum standards in a relevant code.

The codes are flexible enough to be modified and improved as community expectations, good practice, scientific knowledge and technical advances allow.

Codes of welfare replace the 'Codes of recommendations and minimum standards', which were issued under the previous law. 

Animal sentience

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) acknowledges the explicit recognition of animal sentience within the Animal Welfare Act in 2015. Sentience is the ability to perceive or feel things. The understanding that animals are sentient has always been integral to NAWAC's development of the codes of welfare and the minimum standards contained within them. With sentience now explicitly recognised within the Act, NAWAC will continue to integrate the concept of animal sentience into future codes and standards as they are developed and reviewed. 

The codes

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Circuses

This code of welfare applies to anyone who owns or cares for animals used in circuses, including New Zealand-based circuses and visiting international circuses. There are specific minimum standards for some exotic species.

Download the Code of Welfare: Circuses [PDF, 394 KB]

If a visiting circus brings an exotic animal not covered by this code to New Zealand, it needs to meet the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and any requirements of the import health standard for that species.

If your circus has domestic animals, like dogs or horses, you must check the specific code of welfare for that species. You also need to ensure you comply with the requirements of other relevant codes of welfare, such as the code of welfare for the transport of animals in New Zealand.

Related document

Report on the circuses code [PDF, 125 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Code of Welfare: Dogs [PDF, 588 KB]

Biosecurity and importing requirements for exotic animals

Cats – pet or companion

The code of welfare for companion cats applies in all situations, including temporary housing such as shelters, or day boarding facilities, and catteries, and when in travelling exhibits or ‘petting zoos’. 

This code applies to owners and people in charge of companion (pet) cats. It also gives advice on cats in colonies.

Download the Code of Welfare: Companion Cats [PDF, 466 KB]

Related document

Report on the companion cats code [PDF, 62 KB]

Related codes

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Code of Welfare: Housing of Companion Animals [PDF, 405 KB]

Dairy cattle

Anyone who owns or is in charge of dairy cattle needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with them and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The code of welfare for dairy cattle covers:

  • dairy cows
  • calves born from dairy cows until weaning – wherever they are being reared
  • all dairy replacement stock – wherever they are being raised
  • calves sent for slaughter.

It also covers dairy cattle kept as house cows, and any bulls brought onto the farm for mating or kept at breeding centres. It does not cover dairy cattle, once weaned, that are raised for beef production.

Download the Code of Welfare: Dairy Cattle [PDF, 671 KB] 

Related documents

Report to accompany an amendment to the code of welfare for dairy cattle 2019 [PDF, 1 MB]

Summary of public submissions on the 2019 amendment to the dairy cattle code [PDF, 897 KB]

Media release 14 October 2019: New standards for dairy cattle

Summary of public submissions on the dairy cattle code [PDF, 347 KB]

Summary of public submissions on the 2014 amendment to the dairy cattle code [PDF, 207 KB]

Preventing downer cows when transporting to slaughter [PDF, 316 KB]

Report on the dairy cattle code [PDF, 151 KB]

Report on the 2014 amendment to the dairy cattle code [PDF, 39 KB]

A guide to the welfare of bobby calves during transport [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Sheep and Beef Cattle [PDF, 855 KB]

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Dairy NZ also provides a range of information to help people meet their obligations under the code of welfare.

Deer

Anyone who owns or is in charge of deer needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This code applies to any deer held behind any boundary fence or other enclosure for the broadest purposes of farming, including the keeping of deer on game estates or safari parks. This code covers all aspects of deer production, except for velvet antler removal and castration of male deer – for these procedures refer to the Code of Welfare for Painful Husbandry Practices. 

Download the Code of Welfare: Deer [PDF, 581 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the deer code [PDF, 100 KB]

Summary of the 2007 deer code of welfare [PDF, 83 KB]

Report on the deer code [PDF, 46 KB]

Welfare of red and wapiti stags during the use of rubber rings to induce analgesia for the removal of spiker velvet [PDF, 1.9 MB]

Welfare of yearling fallow deer during the use of rubber rings to prevent antler/pedicle growth [PDF, 2.1 MB]

Welfare of deer during the removal of antlers [PDF, 384 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act requirements (velvet removal) for veterinarians

Food safety requirements

Summary of public submissions on the deer code

 

Dogs

The code of welfare for dogs applies in all situations, including temporary housing such as shelters, doggy daycares or day boarding facilities, and kennels, and when in travelling exhibits or ‘petting zoos’.

This code of welfare applies to people who own or are in charge or dogs, including dog breeders and those who show dogs, keep dogs as pets, and use dogs for sport, or as working animals. People who own or are in charge of dogs need to be aware of the code and of the requirements in the Animal Welfare Act.

Download the Code of Welfare: Dogs [PDF, 588 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the dogs code [PDF, 439 KB]

Report on the dogs' code [PDF, 106 KB]

Related codes

Code of Welfare: Tansport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals [PDF, 405 KB]

Goats

This code applies to all goats kept for any purpose, including feral goats after mustering, goats kept as pets, goats tethered anywhere, and goats on game estates or safari parks. Anyone who owns or is in charge of goats needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the minimum standards in the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Download the Code of Welfare: Goats [PDF, 630 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the goats code [PDF, 422 KB]

Report on the goats code [PDF, 74 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Summary of public submissions on the goats code

 

Horses and donkeys

This code applies to all horses and donkeys, including those kept as companions (pets), for breeding, for sport, entertainment or as working animals and any horse captured from the wild. Anyone who owns or is in charge of these animals needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the minimum standards in the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Download the Code of Welfare: Horses and Donkeys [PDF, 550 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the horses and donkeys code [PDF, 248 KB]

Report on the horses and donkeys code [PDF, 71 KB]

Related codes

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Layer hens

Anyone who owns or is in charge of layer hens, for commercial production or at home, needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Download the Code of Welfare: Layer Hens [PDF, 432 KB]

Related documents and information

Summary of public submissions on the layer hens code [PDF, 893 KB]

Report on the layer hens code [PDF, 137 KB]

Report on the 2013 amendment to the layer hens code [PDF, 28 KB]

Food safety requirements

Cage transition reports

As part of the amendments to the 2012 layer hens code of welfare, the Egg Producers Federation agreed to provide the Minister for Agriculture with an annual report outlining progress towards phasing out conventional cages and transitioning to alternative layer hen farming systems.  The reports are available to download:

2020 Egg Producers Federation report [PDF, 142 KB]

2019 Egg Producers Federation report [PDF, 136 KB]

2018 Egg Producers Federation report [PDF, 467 KB]

2017 Egg Producers Federation report [PDF, 468 KB]

2016 Egg Producers Federation report [PDF, 243 KB]

MPI summary of 2015 cage transition report [PDF, 61 KB]

2015 cage transition report [PDF, 187 KB]

2014 cage transition report and MPI summary [PDF, 138 KB]

Llamas and alpacas

The llamas and alpacas code applies to all South American camelids kept for any purpose, including alpacas, llamas, guanacos, and crossbreds of these species. Anyone who owns or is in charge of these animals needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the minimum standards in the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Download the Code of Welfare: Llamas and Alpacas [PDF, 627 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the llamas and alpacas code [PDF, 72 KB]

Report on the llamas and alpacas code [PDF, 144 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Meat chickens

Anyone who owns or is in charge of chickens being raised for commercial meat production needs be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The code of welfare for meat chickens covers all chickens raised for commercial production, whether they have access to the outdoors or are fully housed.

Download the Code of Welfare: Meat Chickens [PDF, 364 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the meat chickens code [PDF, 347 KB]

Report on the meat chickens code [PDF, 45 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Ostriches and emus

Anyone who owns or is responsible for ostriches or emus should know about and comply with minimum welfare standards. The standards covers general principles for the care and use of ostriches and emus. If the ostriches and emus are being held as exhibit animals, check your obligations under the zoo code of welfare.

Download the Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for the Welfare of Ostrich and Emu [PDF, 603 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Painful husbandry procedures

A range of procedures like castration, disbudding, dehorning, and tail docking can cause pain to animals but need to be done:

  • for the animal's long-term welfare
  • to reduce the safety hazard to humans and other animals
  • to improve farm management or the quality of the animal product.

This code of welfare applies to everyone who intends to do any of these procedures. You also need to comply with the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and note, that several other species codes of welfare contain requirements for painful husbandry procedures.

Download the Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the painful husbandry procedures code [PDF, 147 KB]

Report on the painful husbandry procedures code [PDF, 998 KB]

Related codes

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Code of Welfare: Dairy Cattle [PDF, 671 KB]

Code of Welfare: Goats [PDF, 630 KB]

Code of Welfare: Layer Hens [PDF, 432 KB]

Code of Welfare: Llamas and Alpacas [PDF, 627 KB]

Code of Welfare: Pigs [PDF, 539 KB]

Code of Welfare: Sheep and Beef Cattle [PDF, 855 KB]

Pigs

The code of welfare for pigs applies to all pigs in all types of management systems, including pigs owned by non-commercial operators. Anyone who owns or is responsible for pigs needs to know about the code of welfare and comply with its minimum standards.

Download the Code of Welfare: Pigs [PDF, 539 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the pigs code [PDF, 1 MB]

Report on the pigs code [PDF, 172 KB]

Minimum lying space

Minimum standard 6 sets the required minimum lying space for grower pigs using a formula. An online calculator is available to calculate the minimum space you need.

Farrowing crates

In December 2020, the Government agreed on a 5-year timeframe for the phase out of the traditional use of farrowing crate and mating stall systems in the pork industry. 

The regulations on farrowing crates will come into effect on 18 December 2020. They will be available then on the New Zealand Legislation website.

NZ Legislation

MPI, alongside the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), industry, and stakeholders will work together to find suitable alternatives to current farrowing crate and mating stall systems. 

National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC)

Review of the use of farrowing crates

NAWAC review of the use of farrowing crates for pigs in New Zealand [PDF, 153 KB]

Economic analysis of farrowing systems [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Rodeos

This code of welfare applies to anyone responsible for the welfare of all animals being used in rodeos (although only cattle and horses may be used) and includes animals used in rodeo training, and animals used in rodeo schools. This includes New Zealand-based rodeos and visiting international rodeos.

Download the Code of Welfare: Rodeos [PDF, 495 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the rodeos code [PDF, 377 KB]

Report on the rodeo code [PDF, 278 KB]

Related codes

Code of Welfare: Sheep and Beef Cattle [PDF, 855 KB]

Code of Welfare: Dairy Cattle [PDF, 671 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Improving the welfare of rodeo animals

In March 2018, the Government asked the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) for advice about rodeos. NAWAC began research, which included consulting with an expert panel.

NAWAC sent its report and advice letter to the Government in May 2018. It proposed a number of non-regulatory ways to improve animal welfare. One of them was to set up a rodeo animal welfare committee. Its job would be to promote continued improvements to the welfare of rodeo animals. The Government agreed to this non-regulatory approach.

Advice letter to Government from NAWAC about rodeo animal welfare [PDF, 156 KB]

Rodeo events – How do they impact the sentient animal? – Report [PDF, 1 MB]

Sheep and beef cattle

The sheep and beef cattle code of welfare applies to all sheep and beef cattle which are farmed principally for their meat, fibre or offspring rather than their milk. This includes sheep and cattle of recognised dairy breeds, reared and farmed for meat production. Anyone who owns or is responsible for sheep or beef cattle needs to know about and comply with these minimum standards to ensure the welfare of the animals in their care.

Download the Code of Welfare: Sheep and Beef Cattle [PDF, 855 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the sheep and beef cattle code [PDF, 343 KB]

Report on the sheep and beef cattle code [PDF, 191 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Code of Welfare: Dairy Cattle [PDF, 671 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Slaughter of animals

The killing of animals must be done according to the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This Act makes it an offence to kill an animal in a way that causes unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. Each species code of welfare has requirements for emergency humane slaughter.

Commercial slaughter

Anyone involved in slaughtering animals, where a business transaction takes place, needs to meet the minimum standards of animal welfare in all relevant codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.

Download the Code of Welfare: Commercial Slaughter [PDF, 606 KB]

Animals most likely to be commercially slaughtered are chickens, dairy cattle, deer, goats, layer hens, pigs, sheep and beef cattle.

Related documents

Electrical stunning for humane slaughter of New Zealand crustaceans – Executive summary report [PDF, 38 KB]

Summary of public submissions on the commercial slaughter code [PDF, 642 KB]

Report on the slaughter of animals code [PDF, 163 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Food safety requirements

Temporary housing of companion animals

This code applies to all companion animals in temporary housing facilities, including (but not limited to):

  • boarding establishments
  • animal welfare centres and pounds
  • quarantine/isolation facilities
  • pet shops.

Anyone who is in charge of companion animals in temporary housing facilities needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare. They must comply with the minimum standards in the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Download the Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals [PDF, 405 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the temporary housing of companion animals code [PDF, 371 KB]

Report on the development of the code including a summary of public submissions [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Related codes

Code of Welfare: Companion Cats [PDF, 466 KB]

Code of Welfare: Dogs [PDF, 588 KB]

Transport of animals

Anyone who is organising or is responsible for animal transport needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

This code applies to everyone transporting any live animal (land-based or aquatic) within New Zealand, whether over land, by air, or in New Zealand's territorial and inland waters (including to and from the Chatham Islands).

Download the Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

The code doesn't cover the export of animals from New Zealand.

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the transport code [PDF, 386 KB]

Report on the transport within New Zealand code [PDF, 96 KB]

Fitness for transport guidance poster [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Fitness for transport guidance brochure [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Guide to the welfare of calves during transport [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Zoos

Anyone who is responsible for the welfare of animals (including wild animals held for rehabilitation) in zoos (including animal parks and aquariums) needs to be aware of any relevant codes of welfare and comply with the minimum standards in the codes and the general provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Download the Code of Welfare: Zoos [PDF, 444 KB]

Related documents

Summary of public submissions on the zoos code [PDF, 238 KB]

Report on the zoo code [PDF, 60 KB]

Related codes and information

Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures [PDF, 387 KB]

Code of Welfare: Transport within New Zealand [PDF, 581 KB]

Biosecurity and importing requirements for zoo animals

Find out more

Animal Welfare Act – NZ Legislation website

A guide to the Animal Welfare Act 1999

Who to contact

If you have questions about the codes, or wish to access previous versions of the codes, email animalwelfare@mpi.govt.nz

To report cases of animal ill-treatment or cruelty call 0800 00 83 33 (select option 2 from the menu).

Last reviewed: