The Ministry for Primary Industries is launching an investigation into Farmwatch footage featuring bobby calves being dropped, dragged and thrown.
MPI Manager Compliance Operations, Gary Orr, says the footage, that was filmed covertly, warrants a full investigation.
"Throwing, dropping and dragging calves in the way the video shows is unacceptable.
"The behaviour we have seen is deeply disappointing given that MPI and industry have worked very hard to promote best practice in animal welfare, in every part of the bobby calf supply chain, leading into this bobby calf season.
"We have been actively doing this for some time and, in collaboration with industry, introduced new, strengthened regulations covering the welfare of bobby calves in August this year. The regulations are part of a widespread suite of initiatives including education programmes endorsed and promoted by industry.
“This activity has had some positive benefits and we have seen improved behaviour and handling throughout the season – which makes the actions of the individuals captured in this footage even more disappointing.
"Additional regulations to safeguard the welfare of bobby calves will be introduced prior to bobby calf season next year.
"MPI takes any form of animal abuse seriously. Bobby calf welfare is a matter of collective responsibility and that includes Farmwatch coming to the party and letting us know as soon as they have evidence of ill-treatment.
"When we have evidence of ill-treatment, we investigate thoroughly. If further action is warranted, we will take it.
Mr Orr says MPI acted swiftly after receiving footage of bobby calf abuse in 2015. MPI launched an investigation immediately. That inquiry resulted in a prosecution and subsequent conviction for bobby calf abuse. Another related matter is before the courts.
In addition, MPI has a number of live prosecutions related to the current bobby calf season.