‘Calf welfare inspections’ underway on dairy farms nationwide

A number of random “calf welfare inspections” are currently being carried out on dairy farms across the country by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, AgriLand understands.

Industry sources have indicated that “approximately 300 farms” have been, or are due, to be inspected by the department over this year’s calving season.

Sources have also indicated that those most likely to be inspected are farms that have had previous issues relating to late calf registrations, those that are owners of larger herds – amongst other reasons.

In an email – seen by AgriLand – which was issued by the department to a dairy farmer prior to such an inspection being carried out, a number of ‘”specific welfare parameters” to be inspected were outlined.

The following are the 12 sections covered in the document:
  • Staffing;
  • Inspection;
  • Record keeping;
  • Buildings and accommodation;
  • Space allowances;
  • Freedom of movement;
  • Automatic or mechanical equipment;
  • Feed, water or other substances;
  • Haemoglobin level;
  • Fibrous food;
  • Mutilations;
  • Breeding procedures.

Within each section, a number of specific questions regarding calf welfare are asked.

Some of the questions listed include: ‘Are calves cared for by a sufficient number of suitably trained and/or experienced and competent staff?’; ‘Do calves over two weeks-of-age have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of fresh water / other liquids?’; ‘Are records of all medicines administered kept and retained for a period of at least five years and available on request?’

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine had not responded to queries on the matter before the publication of this article.