Threat to New Zealand’s dairy reputation

Published: Mon 2 Aug 2010 01:13 PM
Threat to New Zealand’s dairy reputation needs immediate action
The Minister of Agriculture David Carter needs to intervene to halt the practice in the dairy industry of inducing cows to give birth to premature calves, Green Party Animal Welfare spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
Dairy farmers in New Zealand routinely inject cows in order that calves are born - dead or alive - months early. This practice is used so that milking can start earlier.
“This inhumane and cruel practice could put our international dairying reputation at risk,” said Ms Kedgley.
“Overseas markets are turning more and more to safe, healthy and humanely produced food.
“The Minister can halt this practice by requiring that the licensed drug that is used to induce calves is taken off-label - meaning that it can only be used for welfare purposes, not to induce calves for the convenience of a farmer.”
Ms Kedgley said the dairy industry and veterinarians had supposedly been working to reduce the practice for years, but it was still being widely practiced, albeit by a minority of dairy farmers.
“Voluntary efforts have clearly failed,” said Ms Kedgley.
“It is time for the Minister to show leadership and intervene to require the practice to be stopped.”
Ms Kedgley also called for New Zealand vets to take a much stronger stance on this issue.
“This practice is only able to continue with the vets’ consent, and under their supervision, because it is a licensed drug.
“Under the Veterinary Code, vets have a specific duty to protect animals and alleviate their suffering.
“By dispensing drugs that allow induction to take place for economic rather than animal welfare reasons, vets are deliberately inflicting suffering on healthy animals.
“This surely is a breach of their code.”

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