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SPCA Calls for Fight on Farm Animal Flab


For release: 14 November 2005

SPCA Calls for Fight on Farm Animal Flab

This year’s lush spring grass could cause record levels of obesity among farm animals, according to the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

“Right across the country, the grass is particularly lush and rich at present, thanks to the exceptionally mild winter, followed by a wet, warmish spring. This means that farm animals are facing an unusually high risk of obesity. Farmers may need to take steps to reduce that risk,” says the SPCA’s National Education Manager, Sara Elliott.

“As most conscientious farmers are well aware, obesity can be just as harmful as emaciation. Excess weight places extra pressure on joints and on the heart. In the case of horses and ponies, it can also lead to laminitis, which can cause lameness or even death.

“Overweight beef cattle are worth less at the meat-works whilst fatty udders reduce the ability of dairy cattle to produce milk. So, in addition to their concern for their animals’ welfare, farmers have a direct interest in preventing obesity,” she says.

Sara Elliott adds that obesity can be prevented through ‘break feeding’, whereby portable fences restrict the area in which animals can graze during any particular day.

“In addition, for horses and ponies, there are now really good grazing muzzles available. This is a great development, as the traditional approach of locking overweight horses up in a bare yard was far from ideal, either from the point of view of animal welfare or in terms of its impact on the horses’ behaviour,” she says.


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