Homekilled meat: rules and food safety

Learn about the laws controlling homekilled meat

What is homekill?

Homekill is the slaughter and butchering of your farmed animals to be consumed by:

  • you, your family, and your household
  • any farmworkers you employ and their families, and households.

Food safety risks with homekilled meat

Meat that's sold commercially (like in supermarkets) follows strict requirements to ensure it's safe to eat. Homekilled meat is not checked in the same way. This means it could be unsafe to eat. It is eaten at your own risk.

Like all meat, you need to handle, store, and cook it safely.

Clean, cook, chill

Tips for food safety

How to handle raw meat safely and avoid cross-contamination

Bacteria and viruses in food

Who can slaughter animals for meat?

Homekill slaughtering can be done by either:

  • the animal owner on their own property
  • a listed homekill or recreational catch service provider that the owner hires.

You can only hire a service provider if you were involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the animal (or animals of the same kind) for at least 28 days right before its slaughter.

Choosing a homekill service provider

Who can eat homekilled meat?

Homekill can be eaten by:

  • the animal owner
  • the direct family or household of the animal owner
  • farmworkers employed in a farm's daily operations
  • the farmworkers' families and households.

It's illegal to trade or sell homekilled meat

You cannot:

  • serve homekill meat to paying customers (for example, to guests at bed and breakfasts or lodges)
  • trade or barter homekill meat
  • raffle or donate the meat for use as a prize or as a fundraiser.

Homekill meat cannot be used by schools, universities, hospitals, or prisons.

Illegal to "select and slaughter"

"Select and slaughter" is when you buy an animal from a farmer and then have it slaughtered for the meat. It's also illegal for the farmer to let you slaughter the animal on their property.

Trading hides, skins, horns, and other animal parts

You can only trade (sell) parts of your homekilled animal that are not for eating (by either people or animals). For example:

  • hides
  • skins
  • horns
  • antlers.

Waste material like animal fat and carcasses can be sold or given to a renderer.

Using a registered abattoir

You can send an animal to a registered abattoir for killing and processing. In this case, it is not homekill.

Harsh penalties for breaking the rules

The maximum fine is:

  • $75,000 for individuals
  • $300,000 for corporations.

Choosing a homekill service provider

When you select a service provider, make sure you get enough information about the quality of the service provided. This is because homekill service providers do not need to meet any requirements for:

  • the state of facilities where animals are processed (if any)
  • the use of hygiene techniques, cleaning, and sanitation
  • staff hygiene or the use of protective clothing
  • water quality
  • refrigeration
  • ante-mortem or post-mortem animal examinations.

Find a listed homekill or recreational catch service provider

Animal welfare requirements

If you kill the animal, you are responsible for ensuring that it does not suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.

NAIT and animal tracing requirements

For cattle and deer, the person in charge of the animal at the time of its slaughter must:

  • be registered with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme
  • record animal movements and deaths in the NAIT database.

Feeding offal from homekill to dogs

Treat offal from homekilled livestock before you feed it to dogs. You need to do this to stop the spread of hydatid parasites. Livestock includes sheep, pigs, and cattle. Also ensure that dogs can't reach or eat raw offal when you dispose of dead animals.

How to treat the offal

To kill the parasite, you can either:

  • boil it for at least 30 minutes, or
  • freeze it to minus 10⁰C (or colder) for at least 10 days.

Find out more about feeding offal to dogs and preventing hydatids

Find out more

Requirements for homekill and recreational catch service providers

Fact sheet: Homekill [PDF, 2 MB]

Fact sheet: Homekill for animal owners – the basics [PDF, 441 KB]

Fact sheet: Homekill or recreational catch service providers – the basics [PDF, 462 KB]

A guide to homekill and recreational catch [PDF, 4.3 MB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about homekilling, email info@mpi.govt.nz

Last reviewed: