You can’t just shut a farm down

29/09/2009

One of the questions being asked about the farm where animals were starving to death is why didn’t they shut it down?

You can’t just shut a farm down because that would endanger the stock.

If calving is still underway, cows need to be monitored and looked after; cows which have already calved need to be milked and calves have to be fed.

Another question being asked is why it took MAF three days to react to complaints. They say they don’t operate a 24/7 service which is correct, but they could have asked a vet to go to the farm as soon as the complaints were received.

A third question is why don’t neighbours intervene?

It’s possible that neighbours don’t know what’s happening next door, but in this case one did and it was him/her who reported concerns to MAF.

This is, as DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says, a good demonstration of the farming community’s high awareness of animal welfare standards.

 “Poor management practices are not acceptable. The industry has been working in this area since the late 1980s. We’ve taken an extremely proactive approach in communicating best practice guidelines to farmers, via our consulting officers, the dairy companies, the processing companies, the transport companies and the media. New Zealand’s standards are based on the Animal Welfare Act and our Welfare Code documents and are internationally regarded as world-class,” says Dr Mackle. 

“While we await the outcome of the MAF investigation into the Benneydale farm, DairyNZ would not stand in support of any farmer found to have breached animal welfare standards. It’s bad for the animals, farmers, the industry, and for our country’s image.”

DairyNZ, is the industry good organisation for dairying and it correctly points out that farmers have no excuse for ill-treating animals.


Animal welfare paramount

28/09/2009

Interest.co.nz have a very disturbing video of starving calves.

They were on a property owned by Crafar Farms, the country’s biggest dairy farmers.

Owners are not directly responsible for everything which happens on the farm. But they are responsible for ensuring that systems and processes are in place and operating properly.

It appears that in this case they weren’t.

Animal welfare must be the first priority in any livestock operation.

It appears that on this farm it wasn’t.

If owners aren’t able to monitor farms regularly they have to employ other people they can trust to do it.

The bigger the operation the more important it is to do that because no systems are perfect and the best processes are only as good as they people who carry them out.


Harbingers of spring

17/09/2008

Forget the lambs and calves, the bulbs in  bloom and the flowering cherry in blossom. The real sign that spring is upon us is finding the first bird inside.

We have scores of trees in our garden and hundreds, maybe thousands on the farm. But for some reason there’s always a few stupid but determined birds which prefer to try to nest between the chimney guard and the chimney – in spite of the wire netting attached firmly to the top to keep them out.

We’re not keen on this because the sort of things they like to make their nests from are the sort of things which might be combustible if the chimney got hot enough.

And there’s a second problem because of a gap between the chimney and the guard which enables the bird to get inside. The fire sits in the wall between the living room and the hall and the chimney goes through the ceiling in the hall. When the bird tries to build its nest, twigs and grass drop through the gap and the bird follows.

Once there it heads towards the light which takes it in to a bedroom where it hits the window and panics. When a bird panics it tends to make a mess which is bad enough if I find it soon after it arrives and a whole lot worse if I don’t find it until later.

Today’s bird hadn’t been inside long when I discovered it and I was able to get it out before it had left too many visiting cards. But as I cleaned up behind it I wished yet again that this harbinger of spring would be content to stay outside with the lambs, calves, bulbs and blossom where it belongs.


Who stole our calves?

10/08/2008

Someone has stolen six of our calves, which are worth about $60 each.

Five went missing over night. The sixth was in the pen at 8.30 this morning but had gone a couple of hours later. The gate to the pen was open – but it had been chained and calves don’t unchain gates.

When we were first married we never locked doors and always left keys in the ignition of our car and trucks. Now keys are removed from vehicles and we lock all our doors – but you can’t lock paddocks.


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