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.

Dairy sheep

SPCA Certified dairy sheep come from farms that give the animals access to shade, shelter and good pasture, in order to meet their needs and support the promotion of positive experiences.

What do dairy sheep want?

  • To form strong long term bonds with other sheep friends

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

  • To be looked after kindly and compassionately

  • To have opportunities to run and play

What SPCA Certified means for dairy sheep

SPCA Certified requirement Why? Code of Welfare Minimum Standard
Access to shade/shelter at all times. Ensures animals can manage their thermal requirements wherever they are on the farm. Access to shelter required.
Sheep kept in stable groups for life. Allows for the expression of normal behaviours, reduces stress and minimises the risk of aggression/fighting. No specific mention.
Enrichment for lambs being reared indoors. Allows for the expression of normal and positive behaviour, e.g. play behaviour. No specific mention.
Tail docking only with SPCA permission and must use pain relief. Reduces pain and suffering, during an otherwise painful and aversive process. Pain relief for sheep over six months only.
No castration of lambs going for slaughter before sexual maturity. Pain relief for all other animals being castrated. Reduces pain and suffering, during an otherwise painful and aversive process. Castration <6 months - no pain relief. Castration >6 months - pain relief.
No electrified barbed wire fencing. Electrified barbed wire fencing is extremely aversive to sheep, so this improves their welfare by reducing stress/pain. No specific mention.
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.
No shearing in very cold/wet weather. Additional food, water and shelter provided when shearing occurs. Reduces suffering and the risk of cold stress. Access to food and water after shearing.
No ear marking or notching allowed. Avoids unneccesary and painful interventions from being done. NB. Branding is not routinely done on sheep, because they have wool. Hot branding allowed with pain relief.
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.
Daily inspections for sheep within four days of lambing. Ensures problems are identified early, which minimises pain and suffering. No specific mention.
Multiple lambing ewes brought closer to the farm for observation. Ensures problems are identified early, which minimises pain and suffering. No specific mention.
Warm colostrum given at 150-250 ml/kilo bodyweight for the first week of life, for non-naturally reared lambs. Ensure that artificially reared lambs have the best possible start in life. NB. We require lambs to be naturally reared wherever possible, so colostrum access is not an issue. Colostrum required for artificially reared lambs - No time or amount specified.
No weaning before 3 months and weaning must be gradual. Ensures a more natural weaning process, which reduces stress on the lamb and its mother. No specific mention.
Rams are vet checked for health at least 8 weeks before mating. Ensures that rams are in good health and do not suffer during mating. No specific mention.
Breeding programmes should be designed 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 and horned breeds prohibited. Avoids unneccesary and painful interventions, e.g. cesarian sections, from having to be performed on an ongoing basis. No specific mention. Horned breeds allowed.
Disbudding not done routinely and under veterinary supervision, with pain relief. Reduces pain and suffering, during an otherwise painful and aversive process. Minimise pain and distress. Method not specified.
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. Handled to minimise pain, injury and distress.
Winter shearing only with SPCA permission and a management plan must be in place to ensure welfare. Ensures that if winter shearing is done, sheep don't suffer as a result, i.e. better welfare outcome. No specific mention.
No shearing in the last six weeks of pregnancy. Minimises stress and the risk of pregnancy issues close to birth. No specific mention.
Body Condition Score kept between 3 - 4. Ensure that sheep 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.
Trace element supplementation programme in place. Ensure that sheep remain healthy and do not suffer from digestive/health problems. No specific mention.
A flystrike plan is in place. Ensures that flystrike, which can be a major problem for sheep welfare, is actively managed. Reasonable steps taken to prevent flystrike.
Lameness managed below 5%. Reduces the risk of a major and very painful issue in sheep. No specific mention.
Low stress handling must be used. Reduces stress and promotes positive human/animal interactions. Minimum force must be used.
No dragging or lifting sheep by their wool. Avoid causing unnecessary pain and distress to sheep. No specific mention.
Maximum 8 hour transport time. Minimises stress and fear during a very stressful process. No specific mention.
No blunt force trauma allowed for killing sheep or lambs. Prevents a stressful, painful and highly variable method of euthanasia from being performed. 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