Guide to the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 cover a range of animals and situations, such as farm husbandry, companion animals, stock transport, and surgical procedures. Check the regulations and the Ministry for Primary Industries guidance to make sure you're complying with these laws.

About the regulations

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 allow better enforcement of low to medium animal welfare offending. They also clarify who can carry out certain surgical procedures on animals and how they should be done. If an animal’s welfare is seriously compromised, penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 apply.

Read the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations – NZ Legislation

Animal Welfare Act 1999 – NZ Legislation

Browse our guidance on the regulations

When the regulations apply

The first set of regulations have been in force since 2016, and more have been added over time. The most recent set came into effect on 9 May 2021.

25 July 2016 – Treatment of young calves

1 October 2018 – Stock transport, farm husbandry, care of animals

1 October 2019 – Disbudding and dehorning cattle

27 August 2020 – Electric prodder use at slaughter premises and infringement fee for not complying with a Compliance Notice

14 December 2020 – Use of farrowing crate and mating stalls for pigs

9 May 2021 – Surgical procedures on animals

What you need to do

If you own or work with animals, you need to be aware of your legal obligations.  

Check the regulations to see if you need to:

  • change your practices
  • provide additional staff training
  • make other changes to the way you care for your animals.

Find out about minimum standards and recommended best practices when caring for your animals. The codes are updated in line with new regulations, so make sure you have the latest edition.

Codes of welfare

"Ask Reg" for all the details

Use an online tool – Ask Reg – to find all the requirements for your animal or activity.

Selecting an animal or activity (such as goats or transporting) in Ask Reg will provide you with applicable:

  • regulations
  • guidance on those regulations
  • minimum standards and recommended best practices from across the codes of welfare.

Guidance on regulations

We've grouped our guidance on the regulations by animal type (species) or activity.

Note that information on this page is guidance only. You can check the full regulation by clicking its numbered title – this will take you to the regulation on the NZ Legislation website.

You can also download or order codes and leaflets (free of charge) on different animals and activities.

Check our list of leaflets on the Animal Welfare Regulations 

Regulations by animal type or activity 

Expand All
All animals

47. Collars and tethers

Collars

Poorly fitted collars can cause pain and distress. Check your animal’s collar regularly.

You’ll be OK if the collar you use meets these requirements:

  • Right size and fit for each individual animal.
  • Allows normal breathing, panting and drinking.
  • Not so tight or heavy that it can cause skin abrasions, cuts or swelling.
  • Not so loose that it can cause an injury, for example by getting a leg caught in the collar.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

Tethers

If you need to tether your animal, ensure that the tether you use:

  • is an appropriate length and material to allow normal breathing, panting, and drinking
  • keeps the animal from being caught up on nearby objects and injured.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

A tether is any form of restraint that secures any part of an animal to an object or the ground.

48. Use of electric prodders

Use of electric prodders is restricted.

  • In some limited circumstances, electric prodders can be used on the muscled hind or forequarters of:
  • cattle over 150kg
  • pigs over 150kg, during loading or unloading for transport, or when loading into stunning pens
  • pigs over 70kg, if the pigs are in a single-file slaughter race leading into, and within 15m of, the stunning pen
  • deer, when loading into a stunning pen.
  • If you use a prodder in these limited circumstances, the animal must be able to move away from the prodder.
  • If you use an electric prodder for any other purpose, you can be fined $500.
  • This regulation doesn’t cover situations where your personal safety is at risk.

49. Prodding animals in sensitive areas

Striking or prodding an animal in sensitive areas causes unreasonable pain and distress and is prohibited.

  • Do not strike or prod an animal with a goad in the udder, anus, genitals, or eyes. Otherwise, you can be fined $500.
  • A goad is an object used to make an animal move but doesn't include an electric prodder.

55L Prohibition on hot branding of animals generally

  • Hot branding animals is painful and is prohibited. If you hot brand an animal you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5000, or $25,000 for the business.
  • There is a specific exception for horses, ponies, and donkeys that allows them to be hot branded, with pain relief, until 9 May 2026. The prohibition will then apply to these animals from this date.

56D Cutting teeth of animals

  • Teeth cutting is a veterinarian-only procedure for most animals. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • If you have an animal (for example, rat, mouse, guinea pig, rabbit) that needs its teeth cut (shortened), this will need to be done by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • There are limited exceptions where a competent non-veterinarian can cut the teeth of pigs, llamas, and alpacas, and animals used in research testing and teaching. There are specific requirements for these situations – check the relevant guidance below.
Calves

Calf regulations

Where a regulation specifically refers to "young calves", it means calves up to 14 days old that have been separated from their mother.

8. Prohibition on killing calves by blunt force to the head

  • Calves (not just young calves) must not be killed using blunt force to the head except in an emergency situation.
  • Calf means any bovine that hasn't had milk (or milk replacer) permanently removed from its diet.

9. Maximum time young calves may be off feed before slaughter

  • Young calves must be slaughtered as soon as possible after arrival at the slaughter premises.
  • There are also feeding requirements if it isn't possible to slaughter the calf within 24 hours of the last feed on farm.

10. Shelter requirements for young calves before transportation and at points of sale or slaughter

Suitable shelter must be provided for young calves:

  • before transportation off the farm for the purpose of sale or slaughter, or as a result of sale, or 
  • at points of sale and slaughter.

33. Ensuring young calves are fit for transport

  • Young calves must be at least 4 full days (96 hours) old before being transported.
  • They must also have certain physical characteristics, including:
    • no injury, disease or impairment that could affect the calf's welfare during the journey
    • the ability to rise from lying, stand evenly on all 4 limbs, move freely, and protect itself from being trampled or injured
    • firm, worn flat hooves and a shrivelled navel cord.

34. Maximum duration of transport for young calves

  • The total journey time for young calves mustn't be more than 12 hours.

35. Requirements for loading and unloading facilities used with young calves

  • Loading and unloading facilities must be provided when young calves are transported for sale or slaughter, or as a result of sale, so that they can walk onto and off vehicles.
  • You must take all reasonable and practicable steps to use these facilities.

36. Shelter requirements for young calves during transportation

  • Suitable shelter must be provided for young calves during transport.

37. Prohibition on transporting young calves by sea across Cook Strait

  • Transport of young calves by sea across Cook Strait is prohibited.

57. Disbudding cattle

  • Disbudding is painful. If you need to disbud your calves, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • This procedure isn't limited to veterinarians – have a conversation with your veterinarian about training and the supply of pain relief. It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • Talk to your disbudding contractor and make sure they’re up to speed with the requirements.

Find out more

Read more about the regulations, some commonly asked questions, and actions people in charge of calves need to take to meet the requirements under the Care and Procedures Regulations.

Further information on the regulations that apply to young calves [PDF, 841 KB]

Guidance on preparing, selecting, and transporting calves

Bobby calves animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 328 KB]

Bobby calf videos for transporters – good practice guidance for selecting, handling and loading calves

Caring for bobby calves being transported for processing [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Fit for transport – guidance for drivers handling calves [PDF, 793 KB]

Fit for transport poster – 8 things calves require to be fit for transport – DairyNZ website

Calf holding and loading facilities good practice guidelines – DairyNZ website

Humane slaughter guidelines – DairyNZ website

Bobby calf season reports

Reports highlighting progress made to improve bobby calf welfare.

Mortality rates in bobby calves 2018 to 2019 [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Mortality rates in bobby calves 2017 [PDF, 742 KB]

Mortality rates in bobby calves 2008 to 2016 [PDF, 513 KB]

Cattle

5. Cattle with ingrown horns

  • Ingrown horns are painful. An ingrown horn is when either the tip or the side of the horn pierces, inflames or causes abrasion to any part of the body.
  • If you allow horns to become ingrown, you can be fined $500.

6. Prohibited methods of milk stimulation in cattle

  • The outdated practice of inserting objects into cows to stimulate milk let-down is prohibited.
  • If you stimulate milk let-down in this way you can be fined $300.

7. Use of traction in calving

  • You are prohibited from calving a cow using a moving vehicle, or any instrument that doesn't allow for the immediate release of tension.
  • If you calve a cow this way, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

50. Docking cattle tails

  • You are prohibited from removing any part of a cow's tail.
  • If a cow's tail needs to be docked due to injury, talk to your veterinarian as it needs to be done using pain relief.
  • If you dock a cow’s tail you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

Find out how to manage tails without docking – DairyNZ website

53. Castrating cattle and sheep

  • Castration must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. It is painful at any age and pain relief is always recommended.
  • If castrating cattle or sheep over 6 months old, throughout the procedure you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If using a high tension band to castrate cattle or sheep of any age, throughout the procedure you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • A high tension band is one that is mechanically tightened during application (doesn't include a rubber ring). Rubber rings are the preferred method of castration.

55C. Vaginal prolapse in cattle beasts

  • If your cow has a vaginal prolapse, it is recommended that you seek treatment from a veterinarian.
  • In an emergency, you may need to treat the prolapse yourself. You must be competent to undertake this procedure, use the right equipment, and use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • If you don’t use pain relief you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 or $15,000 for the business.

55H. Removing cattle beasts’ teats

Supernumerary (extra) teats
  • If your cow requires an extra teat to be removed, this must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • The teat must be removed with a clean cut and not tear the tissue. Otherwise, you can be fined $500.
  • From ten weeks of age, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
 Main teats
  • Main teat removal at any age must be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

55I. Occlusion of cattle beasts’ teats

Farmers
  • If sealing your cow’s teat, you must be competent to undertake this procedure and use the right equipment.
  • You must only use a teat sealant registered under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997.
  • Only a veterinarian can use a teat plug or a teat drain, and only for therapeutic purposes.
  • If necessary, you may reinsert or replace a teat plug that has been inserted by a veterinarian for therapeutic purposes. Check with your veterinarian before you do this.
  • No other methods of occlusion are allowed, for example, rubber rings or glue.
  • Failure to comply with this regulation could result in a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
Veterinarians
  • You may use a teat plug or teat drain to occlude a cow’s teat if it is for therapeutic purposes only. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

55K. Freeze branding cattle beasts

  • Freeze branding of cattle must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the animal is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Recommended best practice is to use pain relief when freeze branding.

57. Disbudding cattle beasts
58. Dehorning cattle beasts

  • Disbudding and dehorning are painful. If you need to disbud your calves, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If you need to dehorn cattle, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.
  • This procedure isn't limited to veterinarians – have a conversation with your veterinarian about training and the supply of pain relief. It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • Talk to your disbudding contractor and make sure they’re up to speed with the requirements.
  • Avoid having to dehorn older cattle by using polled breeds, or disbudding them as young calves. Consider horn management with purchasing cattle.

58F. Ringing and wiring noses of cattle beasts

  • Nose ringing is painful. If you need to put a nose ring in your cattle beast:
    • It must be for animal management purposes only.
    • You must be competent to undertake this procedure.
    • You must use the right equipment – wire must not be used.
  • If a nose ring is inserted for any other purpose you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If wire is inserted into the nose of a cattle beast you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000, or $25,000 for the business.
  • In the context of this regulation, “animal management purposes” means to help handlers manage cattle safely for breeding or exhibiting purposes.
  • This regulation doesn’t apply to the use of cattle clips, which do not pierce the skin.

Find out more

Download the dairy cattle animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 312 KB]

Download the sheep and beef animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 326 KB]

Crabs, rock lobster, crayfish, and kōura

11. Killing of crabs, rock lobster, crayfish, and kōura

  • You must not kill any farmed or commercially caught crab, rock lobster, crayfish, or kōura (freshwater crayfish) for commercial purposes unless it is insensible first (for example stunned or chilled).
  • This doesn't apply if you catch it in the wild and kill it immediately (for example, by splitting crayfish).
  • If you don't comply, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.
Deer

58C. Velvetting deer antlers

  • Velvetting is painful. It must only be performed by a veterinarian or authorised person. Throughout the procedure the deer must be under the influence of pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • Authorisation to perform this procedure must be obtained in writing from either the National Velvetting Standards Body, or a veterinarian. Check the full regulations for the criteria that must be met in order to be granted authorisation.
  • If you velvet deer without being authorised, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If you don’t use pain relief, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • The intention of this regulation is to uphold the current strong standards of the National Velevetting Standards Body. There are new offences and penalties associated with non-compliance.
  • “Authorised person” means the deer owner or employee of the deer owner. It does not include a veterinary technician.
  • In this regulation, pain relief includes, in relation to a yearling deer, high-pressure rubber rings designed for the purpose of inducing analgesia during velveting (for example, NaturO rings).
Dogs

12. Muzzles on dogs

Restrictive muzzles can cause your dog pain and distress.

You'll be OK if the muzzle you use meets these requirements:

  • Right size and fit for each dog. A muzzle which works for one dog may not work for all.
  • Doesn't cause cuts, swellings, or abrasions.
  • Allows the dog to open its mouth for normal breathing, panting, drinking, and vomiting.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

  • You can use a more restrictive muzzle when giving treatment, including preventative treatment, but the dog must be under constant supervision. For example, a veterinarian vaccinating a dog that is a safety risk can use a restrictive muzzle, provided the dog isn't left unsupervised.
  • Check with your local authority for specific rules if you are required to muzzle your dog.

13. Dogs must have dry and shaded shelter

  • Your dog must have access to appropriate shelter.
  • Check on your dog regularly.

Your dog's shelter and living area must meet these requirements:

  • Your dog can access a sheltered area at any time that is clean, dry, shaded, and ventilated – but not draughty – and protects them from extremes of heat and cold.
  • The sheltered area must be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position.
  • The dog has constant access to water.
  • The dog's droppings and urine don't accumulate where they live.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

14. Dogs left in vehicles

Leaving your dog in the car on a warm day is a risk. Dogs quickly suffer and die in hot cars.

  • If you leave a dog in a hot car and it becomes heat stressed, you and the owner of the vehicle can be fined $300.

Thinking about bringing your dog on a journey? Plan ahead and ask yourself:

  • What's the weather like?
  • Will you have to leave your dog in the car?
  • How long will the dog be in the car?
  • Is it better to leave the dog at home?

A hot dog seeks shade and may pant, drool, and hyperventilate.

  • If you see a dog suffering in a hot car, take immediate action. Find the dog owner or call the:

15. Dogs on moving vehicles

Dogs transported unsecured on the back of trucks, utes, and trailers can fall off or hang off the side, suffering severe injuries.

You’ll be OK when travelling on a public road if your dog is:

  • secured in a cage or crate, or
  • tied up safely when it's on the back.

If you use a rope or leash, it must:

  • allow the dog to stand and lie down in a natural position
  • prevent the dog from getting its legs over the side of the vehicle.

Otherwise, you and the owner of the vehicle can be fined $300.

  • Farm dogs can be loose on a vehicle, including on public roads, when they are actively working.

47. Collars and tethers

Collars

Poorly fitted collars can cause pain and distress. Check your dog's collar regularly.

You'll be OK if the collar you use meets these requirements:

  • Right size and fit for each individual dog.
  • Allows normal breathing, panting, and drinking.
  • Not so tight or heavy that it can cause skin abrasions, cuts or swelling.
  • Not so loose that it can cause an injury – for example, by getting its leg caught in the collar.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

Tethers

If you need to tether your dog, make sure the tether:

  • is an appropriate length and material to allow normal breathing, panting, and drinking
  • doesn't let the dog get caught up on nearby objects and injured.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

  • Don’t forget dogs need time off tethers for exercise.

51. Docking dogs' tails

  • Routine tail docking (or 'banding') is prohibited.
  • If you dock your dog's tail or allow it to be docked, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If your dog's tail is injured, go to the veterinarian.
  • If you see docked puppies for sale, report it to:

55J. Freeze branding dogs

  • Freeze branding is painful for dogs. If you need to freeze brand a dog, you must be competent to undertake this procedure, use the right equipment, and use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • If you don’t use pain relief you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

56. Removing dogs' dewclaws

  • There are restrictions on removing dogs' dewclaws.
  • If you remove a front limb dewclaw, or an articulated hind limb dewclaw, from a dog of any age, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If your dog's claws are injured, go to the veterinarian.
  • If you see puppies for sale that have their articulated dewclaws removed, report it to:

58D. Prohibition on cropping dogs’ ears

  • It is prohibited to crop a dog’s ears.
  • If you crop a dog’s ears, or allow them to be cropped, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 (or $25,000 for the business).
  • A veterinarian can remove part of a dog’s ear for therapeutic reasons only.
  • In this regulation, “crop” means to perform a surgical procedure to alter the appearance of a dog’s ear for cosmetic reasons (which may include making the ear stand up).
Report on tail docking

Due to the high interest in tail docking, MPI commissioned an independent review of the science and arguments supporting or opposing the practice. The report concluded that dog tail docking is:

  • a significant surgical procedure with the potential to cause considerable pain and distress
  • not justified by any benefit to the dog.

Affected parties were given a chance to comment on the report.

Find out more

Download the dogs animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 405 KB]

Equids (such as horses and donkeys)

Equid regulations

In these regulations equid means any member of the equidae family, including any:

  • horse
  • pony
  • donkey
  • mule
  • wild ass,
  • zebra
  • any hybrid of the above.

18. Horses and other equids tethered for grazing

  • Tethering horses or other equids for grazing is not recommended.
  • If you have to tether an equid for grazing, it must have constant access to water, food, shade, and protection from heat and cold. Otherwise, you can be fined $300.
  • Check your animals regularly when tethered. Tethering for grazing is not appropriate for long periods of time, as animals need exercise.
  • Check the code of welfare for horses and donkeys for further tethering requirements.

19. Use of equipment that may injure horses and other equids

  • Equipment must not cause injuries to a horse or other equid, such as cuts and abrasions that bleed or discharge, or swelling around the head or neck.
  • Equipment (including halters, bridles, lead ropes, bits, and nosebands) must allow the animal to breathe and drink normally. 
  • Keep equipment clean, and make sure saddles and covers are fitted correctly. Equids that wear equipment need to be checked regularly (daily).
  • If you use equipment that causes injury to an equid you can be fined $300.

20. Persons must not strike an equid on its head

  • Equids must not be struck on the head, with hands or any object.
  • If you strike an equid on its head you can be fined $500.

51A. Docking equids’ tails

  • Removing any part of an equid’s tail is prohibited.
  • If you dock an equid’s tail you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If an equid’s tail needs to be docked due to injury, it must be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief. 
Veterinarians
  • You may only dock an equid’s tail if it is for therapeutic purposes, and you use pain relief.
  • Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.

54. Castrating equids

  • Castration is a painful, surgical procedure.
  • Castration of an equid must be carried out by a veterinarian using pain relief. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.

55K. Freeze branding equids

  • Freeze branding of equids must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the animal is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Recommended best practice is to use pain relief when freeze branding.
  • Liquid nitrogen should be used, rather than dry ice, as the brand is applied to the skin for a shorter period, with a similar result. The brand site should be closely shaved before branding.

55M. Hot branding of horses, ponies, and donkeys

  • Hot branding is painful.
  • If you need to hot brand a horse, pony or donkey, you must be competent to undertake this procedure, use the right equipment, and use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • If you don’t use pain relief you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 (or $15,000 for the business).
  • Hot branding of any other type of equid or animal is prohibited. From 9 May 2026 hot branding of horses, ponies and donkeys is prohibited.

56E. Extracting equids’ teeth

  • Equid teeth extraction can be complicated and painful. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
Competent non-veterinarians (for example, equine dental technicians)
  • You may extract a:
    • finger-loose deciduous tooth, or
    • a wolf tooth, using pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • If you extract any other type of tooth, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If you don’t use pain relief when extracting a wolf tooth, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
Veterinarians
  • You must use pain relief when extracting anything other than a finger-loose deciduous tooth.
  • Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

58I. Prohibition on blistering, firing, soring, and nicking equids

  • It is prohibited to perform the following procedures on equids:
    • blistering
    • firing
    • mechanical soring
    • nicking
  • If you perform any of these procedures, or allow it to be performed, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000, or $25,000 for the business.

59D. Performing Caslick’s procedure on horses

  • A Caslick’s procedure is painful and always requires pain relief. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  •  A competent non-veterinarian may:
    • open the existing seam of a Caslick’s in a horse, if the mare is being serviced, or is foaling, and
    • close the existing seam of a Caslick’s in a horse, after the mare has been serviced.
  • No tissue may be removed from the horse, and throughout the procedure the horse must be under the influence of pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 (or $15,000 for the business).
  • It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • Only a veterinarian, using pain relief, may create a Caslick’s seam in a horse, or close a seam after foaling. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
 Veterinarians
  • You must use pain relief when creating, closing, or opening a Caslick’s seam in a horse.
  • Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

59E. Epidurals

  • Epidurals on equids must only be performed by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

59G. Rectal examination of equids

  • Rectal examination of equids must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. There is a high risk of tissue tearing during the procedure, which can lead to peritonitis and death. It must only be performed when there is clear clinical reason for it, and if an animal is a suitable candidate for it.
  • A competent non-veterinarian may perform a rectal examination of an equid for the purposes of a non-surgical reproductive procedure. If you perform, or allow someone to perform, a rectal examination for any other purpose, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Rectal examination of an equid for anything other than a non-surgical reproductive procedure must only be performed by a veterinarian.

Find out more

Download the horses animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 388 KB]

General surgical procedures

59A. Surgical reproductive procedures

  • Surgical reproductive procedures are carried out to control reproduction to improve stock or breed characteristics. They are performed by veterinarians and non-veterinarians, for example, reproductive or AI technicians.
  • Surgical reproductive procedures must be done by someone who is competent to undertake the procedure, using the right equipment, and using pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • If you don’t use pain relief you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Post-operative pain relief should always be provided.
  • In this regulation, “surgical reproductive procedure” means a procedure that involves:
    • cutting into or piercing the abdominal cavity for the purpose of artificial insemination or for the purpose of harvesting, transferring, or
    • implanting embryos, or
    • transvaginal techniques that involve the piercing the vaginal wall.
  • It does not include a procedure carried out for the primary purpose of desexing or the delivery of offspring.

59B. Transcervical insemination

  • Transcervical insemination must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. It is performed by veterinarians and non-veterinarians, for example, reproductive or AI technicians.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the animal is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • In this regulation, “transcervical insemination” means a procedure to deliver sperm directly to the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. It may involve either or both of the following:
    • deep abdominal palpation
    • using an endoscope.

59C. Cystocentesis

  • Cystocentesis is a common procedure undertaken by veterinarians and non-veterinarians, such as veterinary nurses, working in clinical practices.
  • Cystocentesis must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the animal is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • In this regulation, “cystocentesis” means a procedure involving the insertion of a needle through the wall of an animal’s body into the bladder to obtain urine samples. It is a common clinical technique used to obtain a sample of urine directly from the urinary bladder of animals using a needle and syringe.

59E. Epidurals

  • Epidurals are performed by both veterinarians and non-veterinarians. For example, non-veterinarians such as veterinary technicians may perform epidurals on sheep and cattle to provide pain relief during treatment of prolapses and to assist during calving or lambing issues.
  • Epidurals are painful and may be complex. They must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment, and using local anaesthetic authorised by a veterinarian for the purpose of the procedure.
  • If you don’t use an authorised local anaesthetic, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Epidurals on equids must only be performed by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

59F. Urinary catheterisation

  • Urinary catheterisation is a common procedure undertaken by veterinarians and non-veterinarians, such as veterinary nurses and veterinary technicians working in clinical practices. Urinary catheters can be inserted to treat animals that have difficulty emptying their bladder, or to relieve urinary incontinence or retention.
  • Urinary catheterisation must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the animal is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act. 
Goats

16. Tethered goats must have access to food, water, and shelter

Goats are social and prefer company – it's best not to tether them.

  • If you have to tether a goat, it must have access to an appropriate shelter. Goats are not as tough as they seem.
  • Check on your goat regularly.

You'll be OK if your tethered goat has:

  • a sheltered area it can access at any time which is dry, shades it from sun and rain, and protects it from extreme heat and cold, and
  • access to water and food at all times.

Otherwise, you can be fined $300.

17. Goats with ingrown horns

  • Ingrown horns are painful. An ingrown horn is when either the tip or the side of the horn pierces, inflames or causes abrasion to any part of the body.
  • If you allow horns to become ingrown, you can be fined $300.

55A. Castrating goats

  • Goat castration must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. It is painful at any age and pain relief is always recommended.
  • If castrating a goat over 6 months old, throughout the procedure you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If using a high tension band to castrate a goat of any age, throughout the procedure you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • A high tension band is one that is mechanically tightened during application (doesn’t include a rubber ring). Rubber rings are the preferred method of castration.

55D. Vaginal prolapse in goats

  • If your goat has a vaginal prolapse, it is recommended that you seek treatment from a veterinarian.
  • In an emergency you may need to treat the prolapse yourself. You must be competent to undertake this procedure, use the right equipment, and use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.
  • If you don’t use pain relief you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Equipment that is specifically designed to treat bearings should be used, for example, bearing retainers – not ear tags.

55G. Removing goats' teats

  • Teat removal is painful and should be done when the goat is as young as possible. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
Supernumerary (extra) teats
  • Teat removal must be done with a clean cut and not tear the tissue. Otherwise, you can be fined $500.
  • From 4 weeks of age, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
Main teats
  • Main teat removal at any age must be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.

57B. Disbudding goats

  • Disbudding is painful and should be done when the goat is as young as possible. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. Recommended best practice is to disbud young animals, rather than dehorning older ones.
  • You must disbud goats using pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Caustic paste is not a good method for disbudding goats, both in terms of efficacy and welfare. It is recommended to use thermal cautery with pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.

58A. Dehorning goats

  • Dehorning is painful. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. Recommended best practice is to disbud young animals, rather than dehorning older ones.
  • If you need to dehorn your goat, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5000, or $25,000 for the business.
  • Dehorning means to remove the horn or part of the horn, including any regrowth after disbudding. It does not include tipping or treating a minor ingrown horn, where only insensitive tissue is removed.

Find out more

Download the goats animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 297 KB]

Llamas and alpacas

23. Use of equipment that may injure llama or alpaca

  • You must not use any equipment on a llama or alpaca that:
    • causes injuries, such as cuts and abrasions that bleed or discharge, or
    • causes swelling, or
    • prevents normal breathing or drinking.
  • If you don't comply, you can be fined $300.
  • Fit halters, lead ropes, packs, and other equipment correctly for each animal.
  • Use equipment designed specifically for llamas and alpacas.
  • Don't leave llama and alpaca unattended if they are wearing equipment continuously.

56D. Cutting teeth of animals

  • Teeth cutting must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • A llama or alpaca tooth must not be cut unless:
    • it is done by a veterinarian, or
    • it is a fighting tooth.
  • If you are not a veterinarian and cut any other type of tooth, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • When cutting a fighting tooth, you must use obstetrical wire, or a saw designed for the purpose of dentistry. If you use any other equipment, you can be fined $500.
  • Any tooth extraction is a veterinarian-only procedure.
  • A fighting tooth is a modified canine and incisor tooth found in the jaw between the incisors and the molars. Fighting teeth are sometimes cut (blunted) to reduce the risk of injury due to aggression between camelids.
  • Recommended best practice is that fighting teeth are cut by a veterinarian, using pain relief.
  • A suitable saw is one that is unlikely to fracture or overheat the tooth, or cause lacerations or burns to the mouth.
Pigs

24. Pigs must have access to shelter and dry lying areas

  • Pigs must have a:
    • structure they can access at any time which is dry and ventilated – but not draughty – and protects them from extreme heat and cold
    • dry area big enough for them to stand up, lie down, and turn around in easily (except when in a mating stall or farrowing crate).
  • Don't allow droppings or urine to accumulate – either clear them away or cover with dry material.
  • If you don't comply with this regulation, you can be fined $300.

25. Minimum lying space for grower pigs

Pigs like to have space and as they grow they need more. Piglets quickly grow into big pigs – they can get to 150kg or more in as little as 9 months. Unexpected piglets? You will need more space.

  • Grower pigs need enough unobstructed space for them to lie down in. The formula used to determine the minimum lying space provided for each pig is prescribed in regulation. 
  • If you don't comply with this regulation you could face a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Note, this is the minimum lying space requirement, and may not be the ideal space for welfare requirements in all situations.
Unobstructed floor space

The regulation defines unobstructed floor space as including "unobstructed feeding or dunging floor space."

When calculating the area, you can include the:

  • feed court
  • dunging area
  • wet area in front of troughs.

You can't include the:

  • hospital area
  • troughs
  • any area a pig can't physically lie on.

MPI considers an area as obstructed if there is excessive mud or water pooling in the area. You can't include obstructed areas in the available space.

The formula for minimum lying space for grower pigs:

Minimum area (m2) = 0.03 x (live weight (kg)) 0.67

An online calculator is available to do the calculation for you.

Note: This formula calculates the minimum space needed for all pigs to be able to lie down together at the same time. Providing more space than this allows pigs to keep cool more efficiently in warm weather.

26. Farrowing crate requirements

  • If you keep a sow in a farrowing crate, you must ensure she can avoid touching:
    • both sides of the crate simultaneously, and
    • the front and back of the crate simultaneously, and
    • the top of the crate while standing.
  • If you don’t meet the above requirements, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Sows in any farrowing system constructed after 3 December 2010 must be given manipulable (nesting) material until farrowing.
  • A sow must not be confined in a farrowing crate for more than 5 days before farrowing.
  • If a sow is confined in a farrowing crate for lactation, it must not be for more than 4 weeks after farrowing unless:
    • it is a nurse sow confined in the farrowing crate for fostering purposes, in which case it may be confined for a further week, and
    • no more than 5% of sows in any herd at any one time are being retained as nurse sows.
  • This regulation will be revoked on 18 December 2025.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is reviewing standards on farrowing crates and mating stalls for pigs.

Read about the progress of this work

27. Other requirements relating to management of pigs

  • Stalls must only be used for mating and the sow must be:
    • confined for no more than 7 days per reproductive cycle, and
    • released as soon as practicable after mating.
  • If you don't meet the above requirements, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.
  • You must keep records to show compliance, such as weaning date, mating date(s), number of sows mated per week or per batch.
  • Pigs must not be restrained by tethering.
  • Sows and gilts confined in stalls for the purpose of mating must:
    • be able to stand without touching any side of the stall, and
    • be able to lie on their sides without disturbing neighbouring sows or gilts, and
    • have a dry, smooth, non-slip sleeping area.
  • This regulation will be revoked on 18 December 2025.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is reviewing standards on farrowing crates and mating stalls for pigs.

Read about the progress of this work

52. Docking pigs' tails

  • Tail docking is done in commercial piggeries to prevent tail-biting and is not necessary for all piglets. It is painful and if improperly done can be fatal.
  • Consider other methods of managing tail biting before tail docking, such as providing straw, more food, and extra space. Speak to your veterinarian if you think your pigs have a tail-biting problem.
For pigs under 7 days old
  • Docking must only be done by a trained person.
  • It must be done with a sharp clean cut with no tear.
  • If done incorrectly you and the tail-docker can be fined $500.
For pigs 7 days old and over
  • Docking must only be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief.
  • Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

55. Castrating pigs

  • Removing testicles is painful and is not normally necessary outside of commercial piggeries.  
  • Castration must only be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.

55E. Rectal prolapse in pigs

  • Rectal prolapses in pigs are not easy to deal with. It is recommended you seek veterinary treatment.
  • Anyone treating a pig’s rectal prolapse must be competent to undertake this procedure and use the right equipment.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the pig is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act.

56D. Cutting teeth of animals

  • Teeth cutting must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • A pig’s tooth must not be cut unless:
    • it is done by a veterinarian, or
    • it is a needle tooth of a pig 4 days old or under, or
    • it is a boar’s tusk.
  • Speak to your veterinarian if you think your pig or piglet needs to have their teeth cut.
  • Cutting needle teeth is not normally necessary outside of commercial piggeries. It is done to prevent laceration of the sow’s udder and damage to litter mates. The correct equipment must be used, for example, side cutters.
  • If you cut the needle tooth of a pig over 4 days old you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Tusk trimming is sometimes carried out as a precaution in aggressive boars. It is not an easy procedure. It is recommended you seek veterinary treatment.
  • A boar’s tusk must only be cut using obstetrical wire or a saw designed for the purpose of dentistry. If any other equipment is used, you can be fined $500.

58E. Ringing, clipping, and wiring noses of pigs

  • Nose ringing or clipping is painful.
  • If you need to put a nose ring or clip in your pig:
    • It must be for animal management purposes only.
    • You must be competent to undertake this procedure.
    • You must use the right equipment - wire must not be used.
  • If a nose ring or clip is inserted for any other purpose you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If wire is inserted into the nose of a pig you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.
  • The ring or clip must be placed through the cartilage at the top of the snout or in the tissue separating the nostrils.
  • In the context of this regulation, “animal management purposes” means where necessary to prevent environmental (soil) damage from rooting. Some local or regional councils have requirements around this.

Find out more

Download the pigs animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 311 KB]

Poultry

Poultry regulations

Although many of these regulations are more relevant to commercial producers, if you own poultry on a small scale you still need to meet these requirements.

21. Phased prohibition on the use of conventional cages

  • It is an offence to house layer hens in conventional cages after the transition dates listed in the regulation. 
  • If you don't comply, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.

22. Induced moulting

  • If you induce moulting in hens you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.

56A. Partial amputation of breeder chickens’ toes

  • Partial toe amputation is used to indicate gender or genetic lines of breeder chickens so they can be identified by sight. It is carried out in the commercial poultry breeding industry, as there are currently no viable alternatives.
  • If you are carrying out this procedure:
    • you must be competent and use the right equipment
    • the chicken must be 3 days of age or under
    • only one toe joint per toe can be amputated.
  • If more than one toe joint per toe is amputated, or the chicken is over 3 days old, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

56B. Beak tipping layer hens

  • Beak tipping is done in commercial poultry hatcheries to reduce the risk of injuries from feather pecking and prevent outbreaks of cannibalism. Recommended best practice is to use alternative strategies to minimise the need for beak tipping, for example, use and availability of different foraging resources.
  • If you are carrying out beak tipping on layer hen chicks:
    • you must be competent to undertake this procedure and use an infrared beam
    • the chick must be 3 days of age or under
    • no more than one quarter of the upper and lower beak can be removed. The upper and lower beak must be trimmed to the same length. In chicks that are 3 days old or younger, this means no more than 2mm from the tip of the beak.
  • If you beak tip a layer hen over 3 days old, you can be fined $500, or $1500 for the business. Alternatively, you could face court proceedings for serious offending, such as when multiple chickens are involved.
  • If you don’t use an infrared beam, or you remove too much beak, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Beak tipping of individual layer hens over 3 days of age can be done under veterinary approval if it is necessary to help control an outbreak of cannibalism during the laying period. A hot blade may be used in this instance, if it is in accordance with the veterinary approval and an infrared beam is not available.

56C. Beak tipping breeder chickens and breeder turkeys

  • Beak tipping is done in commercial poultry hatcheries, to reduce the risk of injuries from feather pecking, and prevent outbreaks of cannibalism. Recommended best practice is to use alternative strategies to minimise the need for beak tipping, for example, use and availability of different foraging resources.
  • If you are carrying out this procedure on breeder chickens or breeder turkeys:
    • you must be competent and use an infrared beam, or hot blade
    • the chick must be 6 days of age or under
    • no more than one quarter of the upper and lower beak can be removed. The upper and lower beak must be trimmed to the same length.
  • If you beak tip a breeder chicken or breeder turkey over 6 days old, you can be fined $500, or $1500 for the business. Alternatively, you could face court proceedings for serious offending, such as when multiple animals are involved.
  • If you don’t use an infrared beam or hot blade, or you remove too much beak, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Beak tipping of individual breeder chickens or breeder turkeys over 6 days of age can be done under veterinary approval, if it is necessary to help control an outbreak of cannibalism during the laying period.

58G. Removing breeder chickens’ spurs

  • In the commercial poultry breeding industry, the spurs of male breeder chickens are removed to minimise injuries to female breeder chickens. This must be done by someone who is competent to undertake the procedure, using the right equipment.
  • Spur bud removal must only be carried out on breeder chickens that are 3 days old or under. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Removal or shortening of the keratin sheath or removal of the nail of the spur, can be done by a competent person on breeder chickens of any age.

58H. Dubbing game fowl

  • Dubbing is painful and always requires pain relief. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • Dubbing is the removal of the comb, wattle, and earlobes from the head of game fowl. It is done to reduce the risks of injuries and fatalities from fighting between birds.
  • If you need to dub game fowl, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
Procedures performed for research, testing, or teaching

56D. Cutting teeth of animals

  • Teeth cutting is a veterinarian-only procedure for most animals.
  • There are limited exceptions where a competent non-veterinarian can cut the teeth of pigs, llamas, and alpacas. There are specific requirements for these situations – check the relevant guidance.
  • Non-veterinarians may also cut an animal’s teeth if they are competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment, and are acting under a standard operating procedure approved by an Animal Ethics Committee. If you don't comply, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

59H. Surgical procedures in course of research, testing, or teaching

  • Regulations prohibiting the following surgical procedures also apply to research, testing, and teaching:
    • mulesing sheep
    • blistering, firing, mechanical soring, and nicking of equids
    • hot branding (note: hot branding of horses, donkeys, and their hybrids is permitted with pain relief until May 2026 when it also becomes a prohibited procedure)
    • cropping dogs’ ears.
  • If you perform any of these prohibited procedures, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.
  • Apart from these prohibited procedures, no other regulations developed under section 183B (surgical and painful procedures) apply to research, testing, and teaching carried out as part of a project approved by an Animal Ethics Committee under Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act.

59I. Tissue removal

  • Tissue removal on an animal may only be performed by:
    • a veterinarian, or
    • a competent non-veterinarian, using the right equipment, and acting under a standard operating procedure approved by an Animal Ethics Committee, or
    • a competent non-veterinarian using the right equipment and acting under section 5(3) of the Animal Welfare Act.
  • In this regulation, tissue removal refers to:
    • removing digits of any animal – except in relation to dog dew claws and breeder chicken toes, which are separately regulated
    • removing the entire fin of a fish
    • clipping or tipping the tail of a rat, mouse or reptile
    • notching the ear of a rodent under two weeks of age
    • clipping the flipper of a pinniped.
  • If you don't comply, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.

59J. Surgical tagging

  • Surgical tagging of an animal may only be performed by:
    • a veterinarian, or
    • a competent non-veterinarian, using the right equipment, and acting under a standard operating procedure approved by an Animal Ethics Committee, or
    • a competent non-veterinarian, using the right equipment, and if the tagging is a manipulation described in section 5(3) of the Animal Welfare Act.
  • The animal must be given pain relief authorised by a veterinarian for the purpose of the procedure.
  • In this regulation, surgical tagging means to implant any tag or transponder, other than by simple injection, that requires surgical incision of the body wall and insertion of a tag or transponder into the body cavity.
  • If you don't comply, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the

59K. Desexing

  • Desexing of a rodent, mustelid, rabbit, hare, or fish may only be performed by:
    • a veterinarian, or
    • a competent non-veterinarian, using the right equipment, and acting under a standard operating procedure approved by an Animal Ethics Committee.
  • The animal must be given pain relief authorised by a veterinarian for the purpose of the procedure.
  • In this regulation, desex means to perform any procedure to render an animal infertile, including (without limitation) vasectomy, castration, hysterectomy, or ovariectomy.
  • If you don't comply, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the
Rodeos

46. Prohibition on fireworks at rodeos

  • The use of fireworks at rodeos is prohibited.
  • If you organise a rodeo or practice event, you must make sure that fireworks, pyrotechnics, and gas-fired explosions of any type are not used at the rodeo or any practice event for it.
  • Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000 for an individual, or $25,000 for the business.
Sheep

28. Sheep with ingrown horns

  • Ingrown horns are painful. An ingrown horn is when either the tip or the side of the horn pierces, inflames or causes abrasion to any part of the body. For sheep, this can happen when their curled horns press against the side of their face.
  • If you allow horns to become ingrown, you can be fined $500.

29. Use of traction in lambing

  • Traction isn't used by farmers for lambing. However, the regulations prohibit it to align with the regulations for calving.
  • You are prohibited from lambing a ewe using a moving vehicle, or any instrument that doesn't allow for the immediate release of tension.
  • If you lamb a ewe this way you could face a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

52A. Docking sheep’s tails

  • Tail-docking is done for cleanliness and to reduce the risk of flystrike.
For sheep under 6 months old
  • You must use a hot iron or rubber ring. Otherwise, you can be fined $500.
  • The tail must not be docked any shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold. Otherwise, you can be fined $500, or $1,500 for the business. Alternatively, you could face court proceedings for serious offending, such as when multiple sheep are involved.
  • The intent is that the tail be left long enough to cover the vulva in ewes, and a similar length in rams.
For sheep over 6 months old
  • Tail-docking must be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief.
  • Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

53. Castrating cattle and sheep

  • Castration must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. It is painful at any age and pain relief is always recommended.
  • If castrating cattle or sheep over 6 months old, throughout the procedure you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • If using a high tension band to castrate cattle or sheep of any age, throughout the procedure you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • A high tension band is one that is mechanically tightened during application (doesn't include a rubber ring). Rubber rings are the preferred method of castration.

55B. Uterine or vaginal prolapse in sheep

  • Anyone treating a sheep’s uterine or vaginal prolapse (bearing) must be competent to undertake this procedure and use the right equipment.
  • If it is done incorrectly and the sheep is harmed, you could be charged under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Equipment that is specifically designed to treat bearings should be used, for example, bearing retainers – not ear tags.
  • Veterinarian advice should be sought for anything other than a simple, clean bearing.

55F. Removing sheep's teats

Supernumerary (extra) teats
  • Teat removal must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.
  • The teat must be removed with a clean cut and not tear the tissue. Otherwise, you can be fined $500.
  • From one week of age, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.

Main teats

  • Main teat removal at any age must be done by a veterinarian, using pain relief. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3000, or $15,000 for the business.

57A. Disbudding sheep

  • Disbudding is painful. If you need to disbud your sheep, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.
  • It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • Thermal cautery is the recommended method for disbudding sheep.
  • Recommended best practice is to disbud young animals, rather than dehorning older ones.

58B. Dehorning sheep

  • Dehorning is painful. Avoid having to dehorn older animals by using polled breeds, or disbudding them as young lambs. Consider horn management when purchasing sheep.
  • If you need to dehorn your sheep, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000, or $25,000 for the business.
  • It is up to the veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.
  • Dehorning means to remove the horn or part of the horn, including any regrowth after disbudding. It does not include tipping or treating a minor ingrown horn.

59. Prohibition on mulesing sheep

  • Mulesing is prohibited.
  • If you mules a sheep by any method you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.
  • Mulesing is the surgical or chemical removal of the breech, tail skin folds, or tail skin wrinkles of a sheep. 

Find out more

Download the sheep and beef animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 326 KB]

Stock transport

Supplying stock for transport

Regulations around the supply of stock apply to the owner of, and every person in charge of, an animal.

44. Responsibilities of transport operators

Regulations 33(1), 35(2) and 38 to 43 don't apply to transporters. However, they still have responsibilities under the:

  • codes of welfare
  • Animal Welfare Act 1999
  • instructions on any veterinary certificate.

Where a breach of a regulation has a severe impact on an animal, any owner or person in charge (including transporters) can be prosecuted directly under the Animal Welfare Act. 

45. Obligations of transporters in relation to animals to which regulations 38 to 43 apply

  • Transporters must comply with all of the conditions on a veterinary certificate. Otherwise, they can be fined $500.
  • Farmers (or the person who selects stock for transport) can be fined $500 for transporting animals with ingrown horns, injured horns or antlers, lameness, injured or diseased udders, eye cancer, or in late pregnancy, without a veterinary certificate. Check the sections below for more information.
  • Transporters must make sure young deer (spikers) arrive at the meat processors no later than 72 hours after having their velvet removed, and the rubber rings must still be in place. If you don’t get spikers to the meat processors on time, you can be fined $500.
  • Transporters must reject stock that isn't fit for transport (under the Animal Welfare Act).

38. Restrictions on transporting animals with ingrown horns

  • Ingrown horns are painful. An ingrown horn is when either the tip or the side of the horn pierces, inflames or causes abrasion to any part of the body. For sheep, this can happen when their curled horns press against the side of their face.
  • If you allow horns to become ingrown, you can be fined $500.
  • Do not transport an animal with ingrown horns. If you do, you can be fined $500.
  • The only time you can transport an animal with an ingrown horn is if it's a short distance for treatment, and the horn is only touching the skin, eyelid or surface of the eye.
  • Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your animal is fit for transport.

39. Restrictions on transporting animals with injured horns or antlers

  • Injured horns and antlers are painful and the injury can worsen during transport.
  • Don't transport an animal with an injured horn or antler, including pedicle (the structure that the antler grows from).
  • Young deer (spikers) can be transported to the works within 72 hours of having their first velvet removed when the rubber rings are still attached.
  • If you transport animals with injured horns or antlers you can be fined $500.
  • The only time you can transport an animal with an injured horn or antler is a short distance for treatment.
  • Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your animal is fit for transport.

40. Restrictions on transporting lame animals (cattle, sheep, deer, pigs, and goats)

  • Lameness is painful and can worsen during transport.
  • Don't select lame cattle, sheep, deer, pigs or goats for transport. 
  • You can be fined $500 if you transport cattle, pigs or deer that can't bear weight on one or more limbs when moving or standing still, or with a definite limp.
  • You can be fined $500 if you transport sheep or goats that:
    • can't bear weight on one or more limbs when moving or standing still, or
    • have difficulty walking and hold their head below their backline almost continuously.
  • The only time you can transport a lame animal is a short distance for treatment.
  • Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your animal is fit for transport.
  • Manage and treat lameness on-farm.

41. Restrictions on transporting animals (cattle, sheep, deer, pigs, and goats) in late pregnancy

  • Don't transport cattle, sheep, deer, pigs or goats in late pregnancy.
  • If you transport an animal in late pregnancy, and she gives birth on the truck, or within 24 hours of arrival at the meat processors or sale yards, you can be fined $500.
  • Don't transport hinds (female deer) within 21 days of their estimated fawning/calving date. You need to have a system in place to make sure you comply with this.

42. Restrictions on transporting cattle, sheep or goats with injured or diseased udders

  • Don't transport an animal with an injured or diseased udder (mastitis), or lesions on her udder.
  • If your animal has signs of mastitis that include inflammation or discharge, she is not fit for transport.
  • If you transport an animal with an injured or diseased udder, you can be fined $500.
  • The only time you can transport an animal with an injured or diseased udder is a short distance for treatment.
  • Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your animal is fit for transport.
  • Manage and treat mastitis on-farm.

43. Restrictions on transporting cattle, sheep or goats with eye cancer

  • The transport of animals with eye cancer is restricted.
  • Don't transport an animal with eye cancer that:
    • is larger than 2cm in diameter, or
    • isn't confined to the eye or eyelid, or
    • has any bleeding or discharge.
  • If you transport cattle, sheep or goats in this condition you can be fined $500.
  • The only time you can transport an animal in this condition is a short distance for treatment.
  • Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure if your animal is fit for transport.

30. Prevention of injury

32. Prevention of back-rub

Back-rub is a painful injury caused when a tall animal rubs against the top of the stock crate, damaging the skin and muscle. It can be prevented by better communication between farmers, stock agents, and transporters. Animals over 1.4 metres at the hip need to be transported on the bottom deck or on a single-decked truck.

Farmers

If you have stock that is over 1.4 metres at the hip, you need to communicate this with your stock agent and transporter. Draft your tall stock into a separate mob before the truck arrives, so they can be loaded separately.

Transporters

Ask the supplier if there are any stock over 1.4 metres at the hip, so you can plan the best journey and select the right truck. If you load, unload, or transport an animal in a manner that causes injury, including backrub, you can be fined $500.

31. Transport of animals with horns or antlers

  • Transporting animals with horns or antlers increases the risk of injury and should be avoided where possible.
  • If you select or transport an animal with horns or antlers, and it is transported in a manner that causes injury to itself or others, you can be fined $500.
  • Farmers – if you have animals with horns, make sure you let your stock agent and transporter know, so they can plan appropriately. If you dehorn cattle before transport, you must use pain relief authorised by a veterinarian. Check regulation 58 for more information.

Transporting calves less than 14 days old

Specific requirements apply when transporting young calves (less than 14 days old) for:

  • fitness for transport
  • maximum transport time
  • shelter requirements
  • loading and unloading facilities
  • prohibited transport across the Cook Strait.

More information is in the "Calves" section.

Stock transport resources

The "Fit for Transport" app guides farmers, transporters, stock agents, and vets to make decisions based on legal animal welfare requirements. It's available for Apple and android devices. Once downloaded, you don't need an internet connection for it to work. Download it at:

Transporting dairy cows – preventing downer cows [PDF, 316 KB]

Are your animals fit for transport? [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Download the transport for truckies animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 388 KB]

Download the transport for farmers animal welfare leaflet [PDF, 353 KB]

 

Regulation penalties

Most regulations have an associated penalty. The penalty level is determined by whether the offence is:

  • an infringement offence – resulting in an infringement fee but no criminal conviction
  • a prosecution under regulations – more serious than an infringement offence and may result in a criminal conviction. The court can impose a fine up to the maximum in the regulations. There is no imprisonment for regulation offences.

View a list of offences and related penalties  [PDF, 193 KB]

Some regulations do not have an associated penalty. The main purpose of these is to provide clarity about who can carry out a surgical procedure and how it must be done. If the animal’s welfare is seriously compromised, penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 would apply. 

If you get an infringement notice

If you are issued an infringement notice you should read the "Notes" on the back. You can:

  • pay the infringement fee in full
  • request a waiver of the infringement if you think there are circumstances that are grounds for a waiver
  • request a defended or non-defended court hearing.

Find out more about:

If you have been charged with a prosecutable offence

If you are charged with a prosecutable offence under the regulations or the Act, you or your legal representative will have to appear before a judge in a District Court under normal criminal court processes.

Who to contact

If you have questions about animal welfare, email animalwelfare@mpi.govt.nz

Last reviewed: