Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says the new Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is obviously well versed in agriculture, which many Feds members and all farmers will appreciate.
He says farmers have worked for years on setting up proper bobby calf handling facilities.
“The industry expects all farmers to be compliant but we know human behavior… there are always one or two who won’t be compliant,” he told Dairy News.
“There was a media report about some farmers choosing to shoot calves onfarm instead of putting them in a pen. Let’s hope only one or two are doing this, for whatever reasons.”
From his farm at Pukeatua, south of Hamilton, Lewis sends about 500 bobby calves to the works every year. A sheltered pen, from where calves are picked up by trucks, has been in place for several years. He built the shelter after seeing them on farms in the South Island.
“Initially it had no roof, but a lot of work has gone into it over the years, and we now have trucks backing right up to the shelter and calves climbing in.”
Lewis says the industry is rightly expected to humanely despatch bobby calves to the works.
The Ministry of Primary Industries’ new rules on loading and unloading bobby calves took effect on August 1.
Loading and unloading facilities must be provided when young calves are trucked for sale or slaughter. Calves must be able to walk onto and off vehicles unaided, and truckers must take all reasonable steps to use these facilities.
Suitable shelter must be provided for young calves before, during and after trucking.
Lewis says the industry has done much to get the new rules in place on farms.
“Some farmers will think they’re a waste of time and stupid; with any rule change there’s always a bit of push-back. Farmers don’t like extra costs lumped onto them.
“From my perspective, the truck drivers turning up here in the last two years think [the rules are] wonderful.”
Lewis uses an old deer shed to keep bobby calves in pens; they walk up a ramp to the pick-up shelter on the day the trucks arrive.