Federated Farmers is justifiably unhappy about a photo the NZ Herald used to illustrate a drought story.
We understand from inquiries that the animal shown had suffered a major injury. A vet had attended and a decision was taken to end its suffering; this was appropriate, humane and has absolutely nothing to do with the current drought.
Members of Federated Farmers are rightfully concerned the photo is in bad taste and lacks context.
Federated Farmers feels the NZ Herald has made a story fit an image. It wrongly creates the impression there are widespread animal welfare issues when in fact there aren’t.
We have asked the Ministry for Primary Industries and they report the condition of stock coming through for processing is no different now than it was before the various drought declarations.
Farmers are responsibly sending stock away while they are in good condition. Furthermore, livestock have to meet all animal welfare requirements on the transportation of stock. For the occasional animal that has suffered a debilitating injury or illness, then humane slaughter on-farm may be appropriate under the animal welfare code.
The story, headlined, drought takes deadly toll on farms is topped by a photo of a farmer about to shoot a cow.
But the cow isn’t a victim of the drought.
But Federated Farmers spokesperson Willy Leferink says the cow was not suffering from starvation and was euthanised in the presence of a vet because of a major injury.
“This was appropriate, humane and has absolutely nothing to do with the current drought.”
Mr Leferink says farmers cannot just kill stock if they cannot feed them because it is against the law.
“A farmer has to get in contact with the authorities and ask for help if they cannot feed their cows. They cannot just shoot them, that is against our laws,” he told 3 News.
“NZ Herald has made a story fit an image. It wrongly creates the impression there are widespread animal welfare issues when in fact there aren’t.”. . .
Farmers are permitted to humanely slaughter an animal on their farm if is it is justified by severe illness or injury.
That’s what the photo shows but the headline and story would lead readers to think it was being shot because of the drought.
It is an out of context photo that tells the wrong story and sensationalises a serious issue of drought which is not one of animal welfare.