NEW ZEALAND - New undercover videos suggesting bobby calf mistreatment have been released by animal welfare organisation Farmwatch, which the organisation says shows nothing has changed in the year since its last investigation into the issue.
The industry has made significant efforts over the past year to improve bobby calf welfare, including the formation of the Bobby Calf Action Group (BCAG), which aims to implement measures to ensure everyone involved with bobby calves applies best practice in their handling and care.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said it would be launching a full investigation into the footage.
Chief executive of dairy organisation DairyNZ, Tim Mackle, says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming. “The vast majority of farmers care about their animals and we are committed to farming to very high standards."
Mr Mackle said the video released by Farmwatch shows some footage of transport companies and their workers, as well as some unacceptable behaviour by farmers of dragging calves.
“Last year we saw footage of abhorrent treatment and cruelty of calves at a pet food processing plant. Today’s footage of calves being passed and loaded on to trucks is nothing like that footage, and cannot and should not be compared.
“While some of the handling is rougher than we would like, the workers appear to be following the accepted practice of loading calves by rolling them rear end first. Despite perception, this is the best way to prevent calves from stepping back out of the truck and causing themselves harm.”
Mr Mackle added that the new regulations coming into effect in August 2017 addressed this by requiring farmers to have loading platforms and therefore reducing the requirement to lift. “Many farmers have already taken steps to put loading facilities in place well ahead of the regulations.”
He says that while formal figures are not yet available there was anecdotal evidence of significant improvement over the past season with the numbers of calves that are picked up being fit for transport.
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