In New Zealand, most dairy cows produce milk seasonally for manufacture. Most are milked in spring, summer and autumn, but dried off in winter when pasture production is lower. The seasonal milk production system relies on highly productive, rotationally grazed pasture.
The warm climate and productive pastures in the main dairy farming areas of New Zealand make it possible for herds to graze in pasture year-round; reducing the need for feed supplements including grain.
In New Zealand and Australia the use of hormonal growth promoters (e.g. rBST) are prohibited by regulation. This accounts for more than 95 per cent of the raw milk that we collect.
We do not support the use of hormonal growth promoting substances for increased milk production nor the use of antimicrobials for improved feed conversion efficiency. Antibiotics must be used prudently with the aim to optimise therapeutic efficacy and minimise the risk of development of antibiotic resistance. Fonterra therefore does not support the prophylactic use of antibiotics for dairy production. To achieve this Fonterra is actively developing responsible use strategies with the key stakeholders responsible for the supply and management of antimicrobials.
Tail docking of cattle is not permitted in New Zealand.
Tail shortening is permitted but limited to removal of the last two to three vertebrae of the tail (switch removal). Best practice, which Fonterra encourages, is to only remove the switch on cows where hygiene is compromised and all other options to maintain good hygiene have failed.
As part of our annual farm dairy assessments we ensure that the switch removal practice complies with the Code and have been kept at minimal (should only be carried out as a last resort).
Legislation in New Zealand and Australia requires all animals to be humanely slaughtered. Slaughter carried out at commercial slaughter premises should always be subjected to pre-slaughter stunning.
Fonterra supports this legislation, which accounts for more than 95 per cent of the raw milk that we collect globally.
We currently estimate that more than 85 per cent of the animals producing milk for supply across our international network are free from confinement. All supply bases are subject to audit.
Fonterra aims to avoid tethering wherever possible. If cattle have to be tethered or tie stalled, they must, at a minimum, be able to lie down and stand up unimpeded. Our audit reports of our international milk pools indicate less than 2 per cent of animals are tethered.