Farmed animals

Over the past two decades we’ve raised the standard of care for farmed animals by encouraging farmers to make the necessary improvements to become certified.

Beef cattle

SPCA Certified beef cattle are raised extensively in outdoor pasture systems and provided with good amounts of shade and shelter to protect them from the elements. All cattle and calves have opportunities to scratch and groom themselves on trees and other structures that are available in paddocks.

What do beef cattle want?

  • To form strong long term bonds with other cow friends and calves

  • To be able to rest (and ruminate) comfortably under shade and shelter

  • To be looked after kindly and compassionately

  • To be able to rub against trees and groom properly

What SPCA Certified means for beef cattle

SPCA Certified requirement Why? Code of Welfare Minimum Standard
Trace element supplementation programme in place. Ensure that cattle remain healthy and do not suffer from digestive/health problems. No specific mention.
BCS kept between 6 - 8. Ensure that cattle are healthy and in good condition at all times, so they are better able to cope with weather extremes. Take action if Body Condition Score falls below 1.
Troughs and drinkers kept clean. Ensure that they have access to good quality water at all times. Access to water not harmful to health.
Water testing. Ensure that they have access to good quality water at all times. No specific mention.
Warm colostrum given at 10-12% bodyweight for the first week of life, for non-naturally reared calves. Ensure that artificially reared calves have the best possible start in life. NB. We require calves to be naturally reared wherever possible, so colostrum access is not an issue. Colostrum required for artificially reared calves - No time or amount specified.
No weaning before 6 months. Ensures a more natural weaning process, which reduces stress on the calf and its mother. No specific mention.
No electrified barbed wire fencing. Electrified barbed wire fencing is extremely aversive to cattle, so this improves their welfare by reducing stress/pain. No specific mention.
Access to shade/shelter at all times. Ensures animals can manage their thermal requirements wherever they are on the farm. Access to shelter required.
Maximum 8 hour transport time. Minimises stress and fear during a very stressful process. No specific mention.
Animal health plan in place. Ensures that there is proper oversight of the animal's health status and that problems are addressed proactively, to reduce pain and suffering. No specific mention.
Breeding programmes to improve welfare outcomes. Ensures good animal welfare outcomes, i.e. a better life for the animals from the start. No specific mention.
Use of breeds associated with birthing difficulties not allowed. Avoids unneccesary and painful interventions, e.g. cesarian sections, from having to be performed on an ongoing basis. No specific mention.
No use of the Blockey test or those using restrained heifers. Stops the use of aversive procedures, which are stressful and potentially painful for cattle. Testing allowed if harm is minimised.
Induction in exceptional circumstances only. Allows for animals to be helped where needed, without causing them pain/distress by making it routine. NB. Inductions often result in underweight calves being born, which do not thrive and are generally killed soon after birth. No specific mention.
Pre and post operative pain relief when doing surgical procedures. Minimises pain and stress, resulting in better welfare outcomes. Required for some but not all procedures.
Disbudding using hot iron and pain relief only, and not done routinely. Minimises pain and stress, resulting in better welfare outcomes. Pain relief required. Method not specified.
Dehorning as a last resort and done by a veterinarian. Minimises pain and stress, resulting in better welfare outcomes. Pain relief required. No veterinary involvement needed.
No castration of calves going for slaughter before sexual maturity. Minimises pain and stress, resulting in better welfare outcomes. No specific mention.
Regular inspections done in a calm and compassionate manner. Ensures that stress and fear in animals is minimised. Also promotes positive human/animal interactions, which is good for welfare. No specific mention.
Daily inspections for cattle within four days of calving. Ensures problems are identified early, which minimises pain and suffering. No specific mention.
Calving done as close to the yards as possible. Ensures problems are identified early, which minimises pain and suffering. No specific mention.
No ear notching, hot branding or face branding. Freeze branding permitted with pain relief. Avoids unneccesary and painful interventions from being done. Hot branding allowed with pain relief.
No blunt force trauma allowed for killing calves. Prevents a stressful, painful and highly variable method of euthanasia from being performed. No blunt force trauma for calves (with the exception of where no alternative is available and the animal is in severe pain).
Use of electric prodders not allowed, unless there is a definite and unavoidable risk to human/animal life. Allows for exceptional use, as per RBP in the Code. Electric prodders are extremely aversive to cattle. Allowed on cattle weighing over 150 kg.
Environmental enrichment, e.g. trees/scratching posts, in all pastures. Promotes the expression of positive behaviours. No specific mention.

Together, we can raise the bar of welfare for farmed animals

Every year over 13,000,000 farmed animals in NZ benefit from a higher standard of care. Sounds like a lot, but that’s just 21% of all the country’s farmed animals*. With your help, we can improve the welfare of many more farmed animals in NZ. *Stats NZ 2019