Caring for calves

We're absolutely committed to responsible dairying.  

We work with our farmers to ensure they maintain the highest standards of animal welfare and they have a strong track record when it comes to on-farm animal welfare practices.

While bobby calves will always be part of the dairy industry, they must be treated with care and respect.

Caring for calves is at the heart of every dairy farmer’s business and with calving season getting underway, the industry has some reminders for farmers on new and proposed regulations.

Before they’re ready for transportation, farmers should ‘tick all 8 to leave the gate’ for each young calf to make sure they’re in the best possible condition, including the most important – that they are at least four days old.

Fonterra’s terms and conditions also require farmers to ensure calves for collection are no longer housed on or adjacent to the roadside because this is hazardous to truck drivers, staff and other road users. They must have a roof to shelter them from the weather and away from the prevailing wind. They must also be able to stand up and lie down freely in their pen. Young calves must be fed one half of their daily meal no more than two hours prior to collection.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has brought forward seven new regulations regarding the treatment of young cows. These new regulations require that:

  • young calves are fit for transport using the criteria in the diagram, that they are not aboard transport for more than 12 hours, that they are not killed using blunt force trauma (except in an emergency situation), and that they are not transported by sea across Cook Strait (Came into force August 2016)

  • 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 (Came into force February 2017)

  • farmers, processors, and sale yard operators make available suitable shelter for young calves before and during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter, as well as loading and unloading facilities (provided and used) when young calves are transported for sale or slaughter or as a result of sale (Will come into force August 2017)

MPI is introducing infringement notices for some breaches and may prosecute for other breaches. You can find more information on this at


Dairy NZ - Caring for calves

Dairy NZ: Caring for Calves

Calving is a key farming event and having the right knowledge and skills for the job ensures all calves receive the best start to life.

Animal welfare is always the heart of any successful dairy business

Dairy NZ: Bobby Calves

Animal welfare is at the heart of any good farming business. Our responsibility for the wellbeing of stock starts at birth and continues, not only while they are in our care, but also beyond the farm gate.