New dairy cattle code of welfare

Dairy farmers will now give effect to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010 (Code).

“Federated Farmers Dairy along with other industry bodies, has worked with the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to revise the Dairy Code of Welfare,” says John Bluett, vice-chair of Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group.

“Yet the code is really two documents in one. First we have the core code itself – the minimum standard while there are also recommended ‘best practices’.

“While I can see why they decided to roll these two very distinct things into the one document, in reality, they should have been split out and published as separate documents.

“By rolling the two together, lay-people could easily confuse what they see as not meeting a legal minimum, when in fact, it’s actually best practice guidance. Furthermore, lay-people may not understand farmers taking a hybrid approach that exceeds the minimum but doesn’t meet best practice guidance in the Code.

“Splitting the two out remains Federated Farmers preference as the best practice guidance is very sound for good stock management. It would make a very good training tool as good stockmanship is a priority for Federated Farmers and we’re working with DairyNZ to develop both training and guidance.

“The New Zealand dairy industry sees stockmanship as a vital skill set. It’s what we’re judged on and is fundamental to sustaining consumer trust. Stockmanship is something dairy farmers need to develop in themselves and any staff who interact with farm animals.

“Good stockmanship is also sound business practice. It increases the productivity of our dairy cattle and that increases the profitability of our individual farms.

“We’re impressed by the best practice guidance in the Code as it’s comprehensive and will be very useful from a training perspective.

“As the Code sets a legal minimum, it’s really incumbent on Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand to work on evolving industry practice and training, Mr Bluett concluded.

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