Animals: Welfare

DairyNZ is actively involved in the area of animal welfare.

At a very basic level, animal welfare can be viewed as treating animals in a positive way, with the minimum amount of suffering and disruption to their lives.


In practical terms, treating animals with regard to their welfare (and in accordance with the 'Five Freedoms') can have positive effects on production, such as increased milk yield.

The Five Freedoms

The Five Freedoms were developed in the UK in 1965 and form the cornerstone of modern animal welfare.  They are recognised internationally as representing the fundamental requirements of all animals.  The Five Freedoms are:

  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  • Freedom from Discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoids mental suffering
(From the Brambell Report, 1965.)

The Animal Welfare Act 1999, the Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare 2010 and the Painful Husbandry Procedures Code of Welfare 2005 are key documents governing how animals are treated.

Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 establishes welfare obligations on every person who owns or is in charge of dairy cattle. For more information refer to the Animal Welfare Act frequently asked questions

Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare

The Dairy Cattle Code sets out standards of care and recommended world best practices for the management of dairy cattle. DairyNZ has an important role to play in making farmers aware of the code and in promoting the recommended good practices.

Painful Procedures Code

The Painful Husbandry Procedures Code of Welfare was issued by the Minister of Agriculture in late December 2005.  It contains a number of provisions which affect dairy farmers.  The following questions and answers are intended to provide guidance with interpretation of the Code.

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DairyNZ Farmer Information Service:

0800 4 DAIRYNZ or
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