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Farmers must only slaughter bobby calves on their farms for humane reasons from June 1. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Fonterra orders an end to killing bobby calves

Dairy behemoth Fonterra has ruled its farmers to stop killing bobby calves on their farms for non-humane reasons.
Fonterra said from June 1, Fonterra farmers must ensure calves are only euthanised on their farms and all non-replacement calves should be raised for beef, calf-veal or pet food.
“While the majority of [Fonterra farmers] won’t need to alter their current practices as a result of this change, we can’t afford to be complacent as consumers here and around the world become more interested in how their food is produced,” Fonterra said.
Hauraki-Coromandel Federated Farmers president Robert Craw told The Profile that while the ruling would have a “minimal” impact on the district, management of extra bobby calves prior to June may cause feeding and staffing issues.
“They’ve got to feed them waiting for that space to get them into the works and it’s at a time of year when the procurement is pretty tight because of the number they are trying to process,” he said.
“The more animals that need to be fed the more staffing hours need to go into it and not enough staffing as it is at the moment is going to put pressure on farmers to somehow work out that shortfall.
“It goes back to discussions with the government as to what they are going to do around the immigration process to allow migrant workers to come into the country a little bit freer so that we can do the right thing.”

Mr Craw encouraged any farmer who may be affected by the ruling to “preempt it”.
“We’ve got a fair bit of time between now and the spring to make sure that we’ve got systems and processes in place and the ability to house feed and care for those animals until you can get them off to the saleyards, or to rearers, or to the works,” he said.
“Spare a thought to opportunities to maybe rear some calves through the weaning, there’s definitely money to be made there to pop them back into the meat industry, especially the better quality stuff.
“So all we are saying is forward plan, think about it, there’s opportunities which can come out of this if anyone is looking down those lines.”

Robert Craw.