Find animal welfare regulations

Changes to the Animal Welfare Act in May 2015 gave MPI the ability to make regulations under the Animal Welfare Act. This means that MPI can better enforce the Act by setting out clear rules to protect animal welfare. Find out about related law changes and consultations.

UPDATE – 30 July 2020 

Regulations issued

New rules for surgical or painful procedures on animals were approved on 27 July 2020. These new rules have been incorporated into the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018.

The new rules cover a wide variety of surgical procedures carried out on a wide range of animals.

Two regulations that relate to the use of electric prodders on pigs and the introduction of an infringement fee for non-compliance with a Compliance Notice come into force on 27 August 2020.  To allow time for people to fully understand their obligations under the new regulations the remaining regulations will come into force from 9 May 2021.

People who own animals, are in charge of them, or work with them should check the regulations to see if they need to change what they do or the way they do it.

2016 consultation on regulations

In April and May 2016, MPI sought feedback on 91 proposed animal welfare regulations designed to improve the already strong requirements we have around animal welfare in New Zealand.

Regulations consulted on were about:

  • live animal exports
  • care of, and conduct towards animals
  • surgical and painful procedures.

Submissions mostly supportive

MPI received over 1,400 submissions from individuals, industry groups and advocacy groups. A wide range of views on animal welfare and the regulatory proposals were expressed in these submissions.

In developing the regulations, current science, good practice, and the views of all submitters are taken into consideration.

Most proposals were strongly supported by submitters.

Regulations issued in 2016

In 2016, regulations relating to the welfare of young calves and the export of live animals were introduced.

Calf regulations

Regulations relating to young calves were developed to strengthen the rules around young calf welfare. The regulations include a range of fines and infringements for breaching the laws.

Since the calf regulations were originally issued in 2016, they've been incorporated in the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018. This hasn't changed their intent, but titles and numbers for the regulations have changed. Some regulations have been split to better reflect transporter and farmer responsibilities.

Regulations for the export of live animals

Regulations covering the export of live animals were confirmed in 2016. These regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 replaced the rules under the Customs Export Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order (CEPO) 2013.

The regulations mean that the export of cattle, sheep, deer and goats (livestock) for slaughter can't occur unless approved by the Director-General of MPI. No applications for the export of livestock for slaughter have been made or approved since 2007. The new regulations came in to force on 21 December 2016.

Reporting requirements brought forward

The provisions of the Act that enable the MPI Director-General to require exporters to provide reports on the welfare of exported animals (during their journey and for up to 30 days post-arrival) came into force on 25 August 2016.

A Commencement Order allowed for their earlier introduction.

2018 Care and Procedures Regulations

Most of these regulations came into force on 1 October 2018. They relate to:

  • stock transport
  • farm husbandry
  • companion and working animals
  • pigs and layer hens
  • crustaceans
  • rodeos
  • surgical or painful procedures.

Research testing and teaching regulations

Under the Animal Welfare (Records and Statistics) Regulations 1999, those doing research testing and teaching (RTT) must record and report the numbers of animals used in RTT to MPI. MPI publishes annual statistics to show how these animals are used.

Because of concerns about a lack of oversight around what happens to 'surplus animals' in RTT, we've amended these regulations. From 1 January 2019, those doing RTT must report to MPI the numbers of animals killed that were bred for but not used in RTT.

New regulations on significant surgical procedures

New rules for surgical procedures on animals are expected to be in place from May 2020. The new rules cover a wide variety of surgical procedures carried out on a wide range of animals.

From 13 June to 24 July 2019, MPI asked for feedback on proposed regulations to help ensure that procedures on animals are done the right way, by the right people with the right skills and care. Following this consultation, the Government has approved the regulatory policies for the new rules.

Most of the regulations are expected to come into force from 09 May 2020, with some expected to come into force the following year – from 09 May 2021.  These regulatory policies are being drafted into regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

People who own animals, are in charge of them, or work with them should check the regulatory policies to see if they need to change what they do or the way they do it.

Development of animal welfare regulations

Documents are available from development and Cabinet approval of the 2016 and 2018 regulations.

Note: Redactions have been made to some of these documents consistent with provisions of the Official Information Act 1982. Email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses of submitters have been withheld to protect people's privacy.

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2016 regulations
2018 regulations

Regulations that won't be progressed

Some of the proposed regulations that were consulted on will not be progressed. 

Stay updated

MPI will release more animal welfare regulations as they are developed.

Who to contact

If you have questions about animal welfare, email

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