Bobby calf regulations

The welfare of all farmed animals must always be at the forefront of, and at the heart of, a good farming business. When it comes to bobby calves, everyone in the supply chain - farmers, transporters, sale-yard operators and processors - has a responsibility and role to play in protecting their welfare.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have recently introduced seven new regulations after recognising that calves are vulnerable. The intention was to set clear guidelines and expectations for their care and so to strengthen the rules around calf welfare.

Four of the new regulations came into effect in August 2016:

  • That young calves must be at least four FULL days of age AND physically fit before they're transported off farm for sale or slaughter, or as a result of sale.
  • The maximum journey time for young calves is 12 hours.
  • The transport of young calves by sea across Cook Strait is prohibited.
  • It is prohibited to kill calves by use of blunt force to the head, except in an emergency situation.

Three of the new regulations were given delayed commencement dates, coming into force in 2017, to allow people in charge of animals time to make the changes required:

  • Young calves must be slaughtered as soon as possible after arrival at the slaughter premises and within 24 hours of the last feed on farm -in force from 1st February 2017.
  • Suitable shelter must be provided for young calves before and during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter -in force from 1st August 2017.
  • Loading/unloading facilities must be provided and used when young calves are transported for sale or slaughter, or as a result of sale -in force from 1st August 2017.

A full account of the regulations is on the New Zealand Legislation website as " and numerous resources have been developed and are available from all professionals involved in the supply chain.

MPI is working with industry organisations to implement the new regulations and to ensure people in charge of calves are aware of and comply with the regulations. MPI will be actively investigating incidents where an offence may have occurred.Guidance on preparing, selecting and transporting calves are all available from MPI and/or DairyNZ websites and titles include  "Caring for bobby calves being transported for processing"; "Fit for transport" - guidance for drivers handling calves and for farmers; "Calf holding and loading facilities good practice guidelines" and "Humane slaughter guidelines".

As a final note, along with the regulations applying to bobby calves, owners or people in charge of animals must also comply with the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the minimum standards for calf care and management in codes of welfare.

For further information don't hesitate to contact your vet or email

Source: MPI website,, update March 14th 2017