New rules to help minimise risk of livestock injury

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The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is introducing new rules which will reduce animal welfare risks in the nation’s livestock – particularly in the dairy sector.

Hardware disease is the perforation of the stomach wall by sharp metal fragments.  It is known to occur in animals fed with contaminated Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) which is imported into New Zealand 

PKE is an animal feed that is important to New Zealand farming.  It is used to supplement feed especially during a drought.

The new rules will be issued by a notice under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicine (ACVM) Act 1997.  These will set the minimum requirements for screening PKE and outline record keeping and traceability requirements for all imported animal feeds,

On introduction of the new rules all PKE imports will have to be screened in New Zealand for physical contaminants with a 4mm minimum screening mesh to remove contaminants.  It is intended that the new rules will come into effect from April 21 this year. Currently, there is no mandatory requirement to screen PKE in New Zealand, although most imported PKE is already screened onshore and meets the 4mm specification.  The PKE imports currently screened offshore will need to meet the new rules.

Ministry for Primary Industries Deputy Director General, Ben Dalton, said damage to livestock through hardware disease is a known issue in farming and, after discussion with the industry, there was general agreement on the need for a mandatory minimum screening requirement to be introduced.

“It is currently a requirement for all importers to ensure that feed is fit for intended purposes.  This means all animal feed should not contain physical contamination at levels that could lead to harm or distress when consumed. The new rules clarify this requirement.”

Mr Dalton said a key element of the new rules was that the screening be done in New Zealand.

“The method of processing, storing and transportation of PKE varies, which makes it difficult to manage the quality of feed to the farmer,” he said. “Mandatory screening on arrival means that animal welfare risks are managed as far as possible through the supply chain.”

Mr Dalton said the nature of hardware disease made it difficult to accurately determine the extent of the problem or its cost to the rural sector, but it is a common occurrence according to sector organisations.

If MPI becomes aware of physical contamination being present in other imported commodities, additional controls will be considered as part of a wider review of animal feeds.

Mr Dalton said existing biosecurity requirements adequately and effectively manage issues related to biological contamination, but do not – and cannot – cover physical contaminants and the consequential impacts on animal welfare.

The final draft notice which outlines the new rules can be found through the quick link section on the front page of the Ministry’s website: . MPI is interested in any comment by 5pm Thursday March 6. Comments will be considered prior to the notice being gazetted and signed for coming into effect from 21 April

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