An amendment to the code of welfare for dairy cattle has sets out new standards in New Zealand to ensure farmers meet their animals’ behavioral needs and adopt high levels of care.
“Meeting behavioral needs is essential for dairy cattle welfare. It is very important that dairy cattle can lie down and rest in all management systems, including on pasture, on crops, and in off-paddock facilities,” National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) chairperson Gwyneth Verkerk said on Tuesday.
“Dairy cattle like to lie down where it is comfortable and dry. They refuse to lie down on hard, wet or muddy ground and can become stressed as a result,” Verkerk said in a statement.
The amendment requires high levels of husbandry when keeping dairy cattle in off-paddock facilities, including feed-pads, stand-off pads, wintering pads, and loose-housed and free-stall barns.
The new standards, developed by the NAWAC and issued by the minister of agriculture, will come into effect on Oct. 31. The amendment has been widely consulted and is expected to be used as a guideline for best practice.
NAWAC is an independent committee formed to give advice on animal welfare to the minister of agriculture.