22 Feb 2010

Dairy code should have included intensive farming - Greens

1:39 pm on 22 February 2010

The Green Party has criticised the Government for releasing a new dairy animal welfare code that doesn't cover new developments in factory-style or intensive dairy farming.

The code, setting minimum standards for the management and care of dairy cattle, was released last week.

Minister of Agriculture David Carter has acknowledged that it does not cover the long-term or permanent housing of dairy cattle, as has been proposed in the Upper Waitaki region.

Mr Carter says he'll seek separate advice on that from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee that developed the new code.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says it would have been better if the minister had delayed the code to allow that to be included.

He says it is important the code adapts quickly to reflect reality, and urges an amendment to the code be issued rapidly.

Dr Norman says there are positive aspects to providing covered shelter for cows, but housing the animals indoors for much of the year raises welfare issues that need to be addressed in the code.

Former agricultural scientist and animal husbandry expert, Dr Clive Dalton, thinks the dairy code will achieve its purpose if it gets the message across about good stock care practices.

Dr Dalton, who represented the SPCA on the review committee that worked on the code, has been attacked by some farmers for publicising photos of malnourished cows at a saleyard.

"Its very sad to know that a lot of farmers don't know about the law regarding the dairy cow, and worse still, there's one or two farmers who wrote very abusive letters to the paper about my actions, don't even care," he says.