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SPCA calls for improvements to bobby calf treatment

311 1 thumbSPCA New Zealand is deeply disturbed by the inhumane treatment of bobby calves shown in videos taken by Farmwatch and released to the media yesterday.

“The footage we have seen relating to the handling of bobby calves for transport to slaughterhouses in the Waikato and Taranaki is not acceptable. No animal should be treated in this way, and to think this was done to vulnerable very young calves is deeply disturbing,” says Andrea Midgen, Acting CEO of SPCA New Zealand.

“We were pleased that MPI implemented some of our recommendations in to the new Young Calf regulations that came in to force in August this year, however it is clear from the footage shown last night that some of the dairying industry still has a very long way to go to improve their animal welfare standards. The behaviour seen in the footage is absolutely unacceptable. We still believe there is further urgent need for better processes, procedures, and oversight, and most importantly for workers to understand how to handle these animals humanely.”

“Some of the footage released yesterday shows may be offences under the Animal Welfare Act and certainly warrants further investigation. We offer any support to the MPI in their investigations. .”

“Overall we believe the separation of bobby calves from their mothers at such an early age is inherently problematic and we would welcome the exploration by the dairy industry of alternatives. In the meantime, every effort should and must be made by the industry to ensure the humane treatment of bobby calves and their mothers.”

Given the vulnerability of the extremely young animals involved, SPCA New Zealand believes the following should be practiced:
  • Not transporting bobby calves before they are 10 days old.
  • Not confining bobby calves for longer than 2 hours while awaiting transport.
  • Providing proper bedding for bobby calves awaiting transport.
  • Providing proper bedding for bobby calves during transport.
  • Ensuring better and more humane methods for loading and unloading bobby calves. Throwing animals is completely unacceptable.
  • The time and distance bobby calves are transported should be limited – and drivers should be trained to drive appropriately.
  • If a bobby calf is to be slaughtered, this should be done on the same day as transport and should be done quickly and humanely.