News: 30 November 2015

Bobby calves must be treated humanely

SPCA New Zealand is horrified at the inhumane treatment of bobby calves shown in videos taken by Farmwatch and screened on TVNZ's Sunday programme last night.

“The footage we have seen relating to the handling of bobby calves on farms and in slaughterhouses in the Waikato is not acceptable and we hope this is not reflective of common practice across the industry,” says Ric Odom, CEO of SPCA New Zealand.

“Clearly better processes, procedures, and oversight are urgently needed. We have offered our assistance to MPI, if required.
“The practices shown in this video footage are completely unacceptable. No animal should be treated in this way and especially not vulnerable baby animals.

“There are codes of welfare which provide minimum standards on how bobby calves should be treated and transported. This footage showed clear breaches of current codes of practice and a complete lack of compassion and care for these animals and their mothers.

“Overall we believe the separation of bobby calves from their mothers at such an early age is inherently harsh and we would welcome the exploration by the dairy industry of alternatives. In the meantime, every effort must and should be made by the industry to ensure their humane treatment.”

Given the vulnerability of the extremely young animals involved, SPCA New Zealand believes the following should be practiced:

  •  Not transporting bobby calves before they are 10 days old.
  •  Not confining bobby calves for longer than 2 hours while awaiting transport.
  •  Providing proper bedding for bobby calves awaiting transport.
  •  Providing proper bedding for bobby calves during transport.
  •  Ensuring better and more humane methods for loading and unloading bobby calves. Throwing animals is completely unacceptable. 
  • The time and distance bobby calves are transported should be limited – and drivers should be trained to drive appropriately.
  •  If a bobby calf is to be slaughtered, this should be done on the same day as transport and should be done quickly and humanely.
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