MPI works on bobby calf issue

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries confirms it immediately commenced an investigation into the alleged mistreatment of bobby calves that were the subject of a television programme last night following receipt of footage that was aired on the programme.

MPI Deputy Director General Regulation and Assurance Scott Gallacher said the nature of the footage aired on the programme was unacceptable.

“Anybody seeing this type of abuse would be appalled. We share that view,” Mr Gallacher said.

MPI takes animal welfare very seriously and there are very clear laws and guidelines for how animals should be treated.

The footage shown in the programme was part of extensive footage given to MPI by Farmwatch on 14 September.  

Animal welfare officers reviewed the footage and immediately began an investigation.

MPI must build a robust case before proceeding with any enforcement. MPI cannot comment on the specifics of the investigation as it may prejudice its outcome. We informed Farmwatch we would look into it. 

However, the codes of welfare concerning bobby calves are clear on the following issues:

  • It is not acceptable to throw, kick or hit animals.
  • Using blunt force to euthanise bobby calves is unlawful except in emergency situations.
  • Calves must be well fed, have comfortable accommodation and be fed within 2 hours of being transported.
  • People who transport calves need to make sure they don’t cause any unreasonable pain or distress.

MPI in conjunction with industry does a lot of work with farmers, transporters and processors to ensure the humane treatment of bobby calves and that everyone working with animals understand their obligations. 

MPI gets about 700 animal welfare complaints a year and follows them all up. Where there is offending people are held to account.

MPI has a strong record of successful animal welfare prosecutions and the penalties are significant.

The maximum penalty for wilful ill-treatment is 5 years in prison and $100,000 for individuals, and a maximum of $500,000 for a company. A former dairy farmer was sentenced to 4-and-a-half years in prison earlier this year for wilfully ill-treating animals.

An additional $10 million in new funding was provided in the 2015 budget for animal welfare. Parliament has passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Act 2015 to improve compliance and enforcement.

We strongly encourage all people who have information about the ill-treatment of animals to contact MPI immediately on 0800 00 83 33.

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