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Minimum Standards

Minimum Standards

New Zealand has a high international reputation for animal welfare. Because so much of New Zealand's economy is dependent on animals, Codes of Welfare have been established to keep the standards consistently high.

What is a Code of Welfare?

Codes of Welfare are issued by the Minister for Primary Industries (under the Animal Welfare Act 1999) and have important roles in helping to establish best practices, to ensure high standards of animal care. The Codes also outline minimum standards for care and handling of animals.

These minimum standards have legal effect in two possible ways:

  • Evidence of a failure to meet a relevant minimum standard may be used to support a prosecution for an offence under the Animal Welfare Act
  • A person who is charged with an offence against the Act can defend him/herself by showing that he/she has equalled or exceeded minimum standards (Reference: MPI)

Included in the codes of welfare are recommended best practices, to encourage everyone to not just achieve minimum standards, but to aim to improve the welfare of their animals by adopting best practice.

What are the Codes?

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has put together 16 Codes of Welfare that include minimum standards, guidance information, and recommended best practices for animal welfare. These codes expand on the general obligations in the Animal Welfare Act, that require all people who own or are in charge of animals to meet their animals’ physical, health and behavioural needs.

There are 16 codes of Welfare, covering animals from dogs to dairy cattle, and situations such as Animal Rodeos and Painful Husbandry Procedures. You can find the full list (with amendments) on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

Find out more about your legal obligations of care to cats and dogs in these brochures:


Breach of a Code

If you believe the minimum standard of care in any of these Codes is being breached by an individual or an organisation and you wish to make a complaint, please call us on 09 256 7300 or the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 00 83 33.