If changes to the welfare code for cows (released this month) go through, we will see cows confined to indoor factory farms for life.
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) has released a consultation paper on changes to the minimum standards in the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare.
The committee’s recommendations will condemn thousands of dairy cows to a life in crowded sheds on concrete floors — and will turn off many overseas customers for our dairy produce.
The animals will never walk on grass or experience life outdoors. Once again this committee fails to uphold the principles of New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation and by doing so legalizes this country’s newest form of factory farming.
Basic behaviour not allowed
Research shows that dairy cows graze between five and ten hours per day. NAWAC’s recommendations fail to allow cows this basic behaviour, violating the principles of the Animal Welfare Act, which says that animals must be able to display their normal behaviour.
Keeping cows inside on concrete floors obviously prevents grazing and therefore this practice is clearly in breach of the Act, a fact ignored by NAWAC.
There is no doubt that, if adopted, NAWAC’s changes will lead to a rapid intensification of the dairy industry and will result in increased suffering for the cows.
Research carried out overseas shows that cows farmed indoors suffer from higher levels of mastitis and lameness than cows that have access to pasture.
Besides the negative impact on the welfare of the animals, indoor confinement of dairy cows is also economic suicide.
‘Lunacy’ of new policy
The New Zealand dairy industry trades heavily on its ‘pasture grown’ reputation. It is the key point of difference New Zealand has with many other dairy producing countries.
To erode this is complete lunacy and will turn off many overseas customers. It is therefore no surprise that many dairy farmers also strongly oppose this intensive indoor housing of dairy cows.
If you are appalled by the prospect of factory farming dairy cows you can make a submission to the Ministry for Primary Industries. Submissions close 3 December and should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org