Animal welfare regulations

Changes to the Animal Welfare Act in May 2015 gave MPI the ability to make regulations under the Animal Welfare Act. This means that MPI can better enforce the Act by setting out clear rules to protect animal welfare. Some regulations were released in July 2016 after a consultation. More will be released as they are developed.

Consultation on regulations

In April and May 2016, MPI sought feedback on 91 proposed animal welfare regulations designed to improve the already strong requirements we have around animal welfare in New Zealand.

Regulations consulted on were about:

  • live animal exports
  • care of, and conduct towards animals
  • surgical and painful procedures.

Regulations covering the welfare of calves

After the consultation, a number of regulations relating to the welfare of calves – particularly young calves – were developed quickly to ensure they were in place for most of the 2016 spring calving season.

Seven new regulations have been developed to strengthen the rules around young calf welfare with a range of fines and infringements. Four of those 7 took effect from 1 August 2016:

  • It is illegal to kill a calf by blunt force to the head, except in emergency circumstances.
  • Young calves must be at least 4 full days of age and physically fit before they are transported for sale or slaughter.
  • Transport time to sale or slaughter must not exceed 12 hours.
  • Young calves cannot be transported by sea across Cook Strait.

The other 3 regulations will come into force in 2017. 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 (in place from 1 February 2017)
  • be able to safely walk themselves onto and off transportation using loading and unloading facilities when being transported for sale or slaughter (in place from 1 August 2017)
  • have access to shelter that is clean, dry, suitably ventilated and which provides protection from adverse weather, including extremes of heat and cold. This applies before and during transportation and at points of sale or slaughter (in place from 1 August 2017).

Read the full text of the regulations – NZ Legislation website

Download a summary of the 4 calf regulations that came into effect in 2016 [PDF, 194 KB]

Download a summary of the 3 calf regulations that come into effect in 2017 [PDF, 206 KB]

Regulations for the export of live animals

New regulations covering the export of live animals were confirmed on 28 July 2016. These regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 will replace the current rules under the Customs Export Prohibition (Livestock for Slaughter) Order (CEPO) 2013. This means that the export of cattle, sheep, deer and goats (livestock) for slaughter cannot occur unless approved by the Director-General of MPI. No applications for the export of livestock for slaughter have been made or approved since 2007. The new regulations will come into force on 21 December 2016.

Reporting requirements brought forward

The provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 that enable the Director-General of MPI to require exporters to provide reports on the welfare of exported animals during their journey and for up to 30 days post-arrival will come into force on 25 August 2016.

These provisions would have come into force in May 2020 but a Commencement Order allows for their earlier introduction.

More regulations in development

MPI will release more animal welfare regulations as they are developed.

Who to contact

If you have questions about animal welfare, email

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