New rules require pain relief when dehorning and disbudding cattle

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

From 1 October 2019, new rules require people working with cattle to use local anaesthetic when dehorning and disbudding.

Veterinarian and director animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell says, “Removing horns or horn buds is necessary on the farm to keep animals safe from each other, as well as for human safety. These regulations highlight that removal is painful and those carrying it out need to reduce the pain experienced.”

“Veterinarians and industry organisations have been encouraging the use of pain relief for many years, and we know a lot of people are already using it. The new rules will bring everyone up to the same standard, and improve the welfare of cattle, by making it clear that local anaesthetic, prescribed by a New Zealand veterinarian, must be used and applied correctly.”

These rules apply to all cattle, regardless of age. Failure to abide by the requirements from 1 October 2019 is a criminal offence. A prosecution could result in a criminal conviction and fine under the regulations.

“If you’re not already using local anaesthetic, talk to your veterinarian about training and the supply of local anaesthetic,” says Dr Chris Rodwell.

“Whether they’re beef or dairy, whether you have 2,000 cows or just 2 friendly steers on your lifestyle block, make sure you’re up to speed with the new requirements.”

“The same applies if you’re purchasing calves to rear or finishing your spring calving. If you’re using a disbudding contractor, make sure they follow the requirements too.”

There are 2 new regulations, both part of the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018, issued under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and first announced in 2018.

MPI developed these working closely with veterinarians, the livestock sector, National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and SPCA.

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