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Animal welfare first priority says dairy company


MEDIA STATEMENT – 03 SEPTEMBER 2012

Animal welfare first priority says West Coast dairy company

Looking after distressed cows has been the priority for Westland Milk Products staff dealing with an animal welfare emergency on a farm at Rotomanu.

A Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) investigation into the condition of the herd is being supported by the dairy company.

Urgent action is being taken by MPI, Westland Milk Products, farm advisors and assisting veterinarians to try to restore the welfare of the animals, but a significant number have had to be put down.

“Our first priority,” says Westland Chair Matt O’Regan, “is to support where we can the remaining animals on the farm, and that’s where we are putting all of our efforts.”

However, Westland Milk Products is also sending a strong signal that it will not tolerate incidences of animal neglect.

“Westland’s board has resolved to cease milk collection from this property until such time as the MPI advise us that animal welfare has been restored and they are confident it can be maintained,” Mr O’Regan says.

Cessation of milk collection is allowed for in the company’s Code of Practice protocols, which were officially included in the terms of supply which came into effect only last month. The code is designed to prevent animal welfare or environmental issues by helping farmers achieve high standards of farm practice, but it does have penalty provisions if farmers don’t comply.

“While the situation with this particular farmer developed prior to the Code of Practice being set in place,” Mr O’Regan says, “we already had concerns and efforts to assist this farmer had been made”.

“We are disappointed that it has come to this. Nobody wants to see animals suffering, and it is so unnecessary when help is and has been available from us and organisations like Federated Farmers and Dairy New Zealand. Unfortunately it appears none of the advice was taken up and the winter has seen the situation deteriorate rapidly.”

Mr O’Regan says the circumstances leading to this animal welfare issue are multi-faceted and will require careful analysis to help prevent incidents like this in the future.

Mr O’Regan says any further comment will have to wait until the MPI investigation is complete.

ENDS


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