New Zealand’s great animal welfare system enhances our reputation as world leaders – let’s keep it that way.
On October 1 2018, new animal welfare regulations come into effect. The regulations relating to transport do not impose new obligations on transporters or suppliers, as they are based on existing minimum standards in the codes of welfare.
While the majority of millions of livestock transported are in a fit condition, these regulations will make it easier for Animal Welfare Inspectors to address those that aren’t. New penalties such as fines will be issued for certain actions, while the worst offenders will continue to be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
Transport is stressful for animals. The transport-related regulations help to ensure that livestock is transported only when they are fit to withstand the entire journey. Some of the transport regulations apply to transporters, some of them apply to suppliers, and some impose obligations on both transporters and suppliers.
Transporters need to take care during loading, transporting and unloading livestock, to prevent injuries including back-rub, or they can be fined $500.
Transporters need to be aware of the regulations that apply to people supplying livestock for transport, such as meat company buyers, farmers and livestock agents. These include restrictions on transporting livestock with:
- lameness –there are different signs of lameness for different animals. Sheep and goats are considered lame when they cannot bear weight on one or more limbs when moving or standing still, or have difficulty walking and holding their head below their backline almost continuously. Cattle, deer and pigs are considered lame when they cannot bear weight on one or more limbs when moving or standing still, or have a definite limp.
- eye cancer – that is more than 2 cm in diameter, it is not confined to the eye or eyelid, or if there is bleeding or discharging
- ingrown horns
- injured horns, antlers, or pedicles
- injured or diseased udders (mastitis) or udder lesions, and
- livestock in late pregnancy – and she then gives birth in the truck or within 24 hours of arrival at meat processors or sale yards
Transporters won’t be fined for these pre-existing conditions. However, if livestock with one of these conditions is accompanied by a veterinary certificate, transporters can be fined for failing to follow the veterinarian’s instructions. Regulations aside, transporters have an overriding obligation under the Animal Welfare Act to reject livestock that is not fit for transport.
Transporters and suppliers are both responsible for the transport of livestock with horns. Transporting livestock with horns increases the risk of injury on the journey, and should be avoided where possible. If horned livestock arrive at their destination with damage to their horns, or other livestock transported with them have an injury caused by the horns, the supplier and the transporter can be fined $500 for transporting livestock in a manner that causes injuries. The supplier and transporter need to work together to ensure the safe transport of livestock with horns.
Communication is key and everyone in the supply chain needs to play their part. The improvements in bobby calf welfare over the last few years have been achieved because farmers, transporters and processors all took responsibility and worked together.
Transporters also need to be aware of regulations on the use of electric prodders, as these are restricted. There are some limited circumstances where electric prodders can be used on the muscled hind or forequarters only of:
- cattle over 150 kg,
- pigs over 150 kg during loading or unloading for transport.
If you use an electric prodder in these limited circumstances, the animal must be able to move away from the prodder. If you use an electric prodder for any other purpose, you can be fined $500. This regulation is not intended to cover situations where your personal safety is at risk.
New Zealand’s primary industry export earnings for animals and animal products are worth over $20 billion to our economy. Our animal welfare system is well regarded, and our global reputation as ethical food producers depends on us continuing to produce animal products with strong animal welfare standards. These regulations improve the clarity and enforceability of our Animal Welfare Act, and enhance our reputation as world leaders in animal welfare.
Download Key Messages for Transporters from MPI
- Source: Ministry for Primary Industries