Consultation on proposed animal welfare regulations

Closing Date:
Contact: Animal welfare policy team

Updates and related consultation

13 June 2019: Consultation on significant surgical procedures

MPI sought feedback on proposed regulations to help ensure that procedures on animals are done the right way, by people with the right skills and care.

The consultation opened on 13 June and closed on 24 July 2019.

29 March 2018: New animal welfare regulations announced

13 July 2017: Public submissions released

This consultation closed on 19 May 2016. 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.

Documents containing the submissions

28 July 2016: New rules announced

New rules for live animal exports have been announced:

During the consultation MPI received about 60 submissions on live animal exports. Submissions have been analysed and the Animal Welfare Amendment Act (No 2) 2015 Commencement Order 2016 and the Animal Welfare (Export of Livestock for Slaughter) Regulations 2016 have been approved.

The Animal Welfare Amendment Act (No 2) 2015 Commencement Order 2016 will come into force on 25 August 2016. This Order will bring into effect live animal export provisions in the Animal Welfare Act 1999 that would have otherwise commenced automatically in May 2020.

The provisions will give MPI’s Director-General more powers to:

  • require reports on the welfare of animals during their journey and for up to 30 days after their arrival in the importing country, and 
  • take that information into account when considering future export approvals.

In addition, the current regime under the Customs Export Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order 2013 will be moved to regulations under the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare (export of Livestock for Slaughter) Regulations 2016 will come into force on 21 December 2016.


26 July 2016: New calf regulations announced

New regulations for young calves have been announced:


10 June 2016: Progress report

Public consultation on proposed animal welfare regulations was held between 14 April and 19 May 2016. A number of the proposals covered the management of young calves, which primarily relate to bobby calves.

MPI received around 1,500 submissions about the proposed regulations – and about 120 of those were on the young calf proposals. Overall, the proposals on bobby calves were widely supported.

Government ministers have now agreed to progress a set of regulations for young calves. It's planned for some to come into force as close as possible to the start of the 2016 spring calving season. Others will have a delayed start date to allow enough time for farmers, transport operators and processors to make the business changes necessary to comply with them.

Regulations taking immediate effect will:

  • require that young calves must be at least 4 full days of age and physically fit before they are transported for sale or slaughter
  • set a maximum duration of 12 hours journey time for young calves being transported for sale or slaughter
  • prohibit the transport of young calves by sea across Cook Strait
  • prohibit the killing of any calves by use of blunt force trauma, except in an emergency situation.

Regulations that will be introduced later will:

  • require that young calves must be slaughtered as soon as possible after arrival at the slaughter premises, and within 24 hours of the last feed on farm. (Coming into effect in February 2017)
  • require that suitable shelter be provided for young calves before and during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter. (Coming into effect August 2017)
  • require that loading and unloading facilities be provided and used when young calves are transported for sale and slaughter. (Coming into effect August 2017).

MPI thanks all those who were involved in the development of these proposals and those who took the time to make submissions.

Find out more

Consultation background

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) sought feedback on proposed animal welfare regulations designed to improve the already strong requirements we have around animal welfare in New Zealand.

Regulations we consulted on were in relation to:

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

Consultation ran from 14 April 2016 to 19 May 2016. A series of public meetings took place across the country as part of the consultation.

Animal welfare matters. It's important to animals, it's important to us as a society, and it's important to our economy. 

Last year, following an extensive consultation process, the Animal Welfare Act was amended to improve the enforceability, clarity and transparency of the animal welfare system. The changes to the Act have meant we have the ability to make regulations, which will provide detailed rules sitting under the Act.

Most animal welfare offences are of low to medium seriousness. The regulations introduce new penalties and fines to allow us to deal with these more effectively.

Our animal welfare system is considered among the best in the world, and these regulations will build on those good foundations.

The proposals

The proposed regulations related to live animal exports, the care of and conduct towards animals, and surgical and painful procedures.

The new rules were focused on keeping pace with changing scientific knowledge and good practice.

Regulations for the care of, and conduct towards animals, and regulations for surgical and painful procedures.

Most animal welfare offending is at a low to medium level of severity. The proposed regulations sought to set specific penalties – including fines – for low to medium level animal welfare offences so that this type of offending could be dealt with more effectively.

Most New Zealanders take good care of their animals whether they are farmers or pet owners.

However, some New Zealanders fail to look after their animals properly. The new rules mean we can effectively deal with all levels of offending, not just the most severe. Severe offences are currently dealt with under the Act.

The proposals also clarified what was considered a surgical or painful procedure, and the rules around how these procedures were performed to better protect animals.

Examples of what may change under the proposed regulations:

  • Dogs travelling on the back of vehicles on public roads must be secured so they don't fall off.
  • If you are dehorning cattle, sheep or goats, you would be required to administer pain relief.
  • If a dog shows signs of heat distress from being left in a hot vehicle, the person in charge of the dog will be liable for a fine.
  • De-clawing cats and de-barking dogs will be prohibited except for therapeutic purposes.
  • If you want to transport injured stock – a veterinary certificate would be required.
  • Hot branding any animal would be prohibited.

The consultation document has all the proposed regulations

Young calves (commonly known as bobby calves)

The care and conduct proposals include specific measures aimed at better protecting young calves from stress and injury. These relate to dairy and beef calves.

Examples of what may change under the proposed regulations:

  • The time between last feed and slaughter for young calves would be reduced from 30 hours to 24 hours.
  • Adequate shelter for young calves would be required.
  • Maximum truck journey times for young calves would be reduced.
  • Transportation across the Cook Strait would be banned.
  • There would be a requirement for young calves to be fit enough for transport. For example, they would have to be 4 days old, have dry navels and hard hooves.
  • Handlers of young calves will be required to handle them properly.
  • Following consultation, some regulations may be brought forward to be in place by the 2016 calving season. However, for practical reasons, some changes may need to be transitioned over time.

The consultation document has all the proposed regulations

More information

You can find out more about the proposed regulations in the consultation documents. If you are looking for specific rules related to a certain animal or activity, use the contents page at the start of the document to guide you.

If you have any questions about the care and conduct regulations, or the surgical and painful procedures regulations, email animalwelfarepolicy@mpi.govt.nz


Live Animal Export Regulations

The regulations relating to live animal exports will enhance the welfare of animals being exported from New Zealand and further strengthen New Zealand's reputation as a responsible exporter of animals and animal products.

The changes will give the Director-General more powers to:

  • require reports on the welfare of animals during and after export, and
  • take those reports in to account when considering future export approvals.

The changes will make permanent the existing ban on the export of livestock for slaughter.

More information

You can find out more about the proposed regulations in the consultation document.

If you have any questions about the live animal exports proposed regulations, email animalwelfarepolicy@mpi.govt.nz.

Consultation documents

Proposed Animal Welfare Regulations (Care & Conduct and Surgical & Painful Procedures) [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Proposed regulations for the transport of live animals from New Zealand [PDF, 269 KB]

Related documents

Workshop and meeting notes

MPI held 10 workshops and meetings in August and September 2015 with industry and animal welfare advocacy groups. These workshops considered options for potential regulations relating to the care of, and conduct towards animals; and to surgical and painful procedures.

MPI held 2 workshops in February 2016 with industry and animal welfare advocacy groups. These workshops considered options for potential regulations relating to young calves, focusing in particular on bobby calves.

(These notes have been reviewed by the participants and contain some minor revisions from Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Dairy NZ.)

MPI held a workshop in May 2017 with animal advocacy stakeholders to discuss the regulatory proposals how to ensure they are practical and effective.

MPI held a workshop in March 2017 with industry stakeholders to discuss the regulatory proposals how to ensure they are practical and effective.

Submissions are public information

Any submission you make becomes public information. Anyone can ask for copies of all submissions under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA says we must make the information available unless we have a good reason for withholding it. You can find those grounds in sections 6 and 9 of the OIA. Tell us if you think there are grounds to withhold specific information in your submission. Reasons might include, it's commercially sensitive or it's personal information. However, any decision MPI makes to withhold information can be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may require the information be released.

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