DairyNZ, the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, the Road Transport Forum, the New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand,
the New Zealand Veterinary Association, and the Ministry for Primary Industries have made a joint commitment to stamp out any mistreatment of calves.
The farmer insights are the result of 20 face to face interviews conducted by DairyNZ staff across Northland, Waikato, Lower North Island, Canterbury and Southland. The respondents selected were farm owners, sharemilkers or operational managers. They form a farmer feedback group, representing a cross-section of farm ownership type, farm system and size.
Next steps for action group
DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the dairy industry is focused on its actions in preparation for the next calving season and giving good advice to farmers.
“Resolving these issues will depend, not on words, but on actions. We are committed to working with everyone in the supply chain, including farmers, to ensure bobby calves are well cared for. We have ensured some good practice advice is already available and that farmers have forums available where they can share their own good management practices with others.”
Tim Ritchie, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association says that the meat processing and export industry is subject to a comprehensive regulatory framework, and that the meat industry, together with the dairy industry is undertaking a systematic review from farm to processor to identify any opportunities for improvement. This will be completed before the next bobby calf season.
DairyNZ animal husbandry and welfare team leader Chris Leach says it is important to test any ideas and process mapping with farmers to ensure everyone has a robust and practical understanding of the on-farm elements of bobby calf care.
“Farmers gave us valuable feedback in the interviews. It is essential that we work closely with them to ensure that any changes are well-thought through, practical, workable, cost effective and result in genuine welfare benefits. We’ll continue to keep talking to farmers as we finalise advice on improvements that farmers can implement this coming season. Generally those interviewed saw our initiative as a positive opportunity to review the current process and how to improve it, particularly when viewed through public eyes. Another saw ‘education, not regulation’ as the answer’,” he says.
For advice and information on bobby calf care go to dairynz.co.nz/bobbycalves.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy March 2016