Calls To Ban Abortions In NZ’s Dairy Industry

The New Zealand Green party has added its voice to others calling for a ban on the controversial use of an abortion drug by New Zealand dairy farmers, fearing that it has the potential to damage the country’s green reputation as other countries turn to more responsible and sustainable  farming methods.

Dairy farmers in New Zealand have for generations routinely administered the drug to their pregnant cows, terminating fetuses at all stages of gestation, so that milking may start earlier in the season.

The practice, which has been described as “callous and unethical” by NZ animal welfare advocacy group SAFE, was the subject of a TVNZ report shown on NZ television yesterday. See link

Safe’s media release, which may be found on its website HERE, stated:

“Dairy farmers deliberately birth thousands of calves prematurely each year in a practice known as “inducing“. The vet gives the cows two injections, so their calves will be born 8-12 weeks premature. It’s done to get all cows in a herd to calve at the same time, and produce milk earlier. It means many calves are born dead, but some are born still alive and have to be euthanised.

But many vets, including Bernice Mangnall from Canterbury, are against the practice.

“Times have changed, public perception has changed and the requirements on the overseas market have changed,” she said. “So this is just moving it on …. and phasing it out.”

Hans Kriek from SAFE is among the critics calling for the practice to be banned.

“No one actually realises what we do in this industry and how cruel it actually is,” he told ONE News. “New Zealand could seriously pay a price over this, so it’s really in the dairy industry’s own interests to stop this practice.”

The issue has become an ethical dilemma for New Zealand’s $6 billion dairy industry, with approximately 200,000 cows induced in New Zealand each year. Farmers say it’s a valuable management tool, but are divided on its use…”

According to SAFE’s statement although a decision was made to end inductions last October there is no strict auditing of the practice being carried out.

The average size of a herd in Canterbury is approximately 700, so some farmers will induce up to 100 cows.

Inductions were introduced 40 years ago. They are legal but the government’s code of welfare for dairy cattle says it’s best practice not to do them.

The industry originally agreed to end inductions in October but it has since decided to gradually phase them out.

Fonterra does not support the practice, but still collects milk from farmers who induce. There is no strict auditing of the induction practice.

The Green’s media release tells us that it’s only the Minister of Agriculture who can ban the induction of dairy cows and make the NZ dairy industry live up to the ‘clean, green image’ the rest of the world has of it:

Although the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) acknowledged in its 2010 Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare report that induction ‘has the potential to affect the welfare of both cow and calf adversely’ and states that it does not support induction, the Report is only a recommendation to the Minister of Agriculture who can ban the practice.

“The Minister has the ability to raise animal welfare standards to match those in the organic standards and production rules of BioGro New Zealand, and AsureQuality,” said Mr Browning.

“The Minister has the power to ‘clean and green’ animal welfare and New Zealand primary production very quickly if he can grasp the vision that most consumers and discerning export markets have.”

“Leaving it to industry to phase out inductions voluntarily is a cop out. The Minister needs to use his leadership ability on animal welfare just as he has on the ETS and water quality, because he knows what the best markets actually want and he knows what is right.” read the whole release here

fortunately, organically reared cows are not subjected to this barbaric practice in New Zealand.

Links to other blog posts you may also be interested in:

NZ Farmers plan to ‘factory farm’ dairy cows

Vivisection and animal welfare standards in New Zealand


New Zealand’s Pig farm horrors exposed:

Dairy factory farming proposed in the UK

“Campaigners think cows should be like in the Anchor butter advert, with 50 to 100 cows dancing in a field,’ he said. ‘It is a lovely idea, but not the reality.” read the whole article in The Daily