The Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum is urging farmers to plan ahead for disruption at processors due to COVID-19.
Forum chair Dr Lindsay Burton said it was critical that farmers book space at meat processors well in advance and be prepared to potentially hold stock on-farm for longer.
“We have seen overseas the disruption that Omicron can cause to supply chains - particularly meat processing. It is important that farmers talk to their stock agents, processors and transporters if they aren’t already, and have a plan for what they would do if they need to hold onto the stock for longer.
“Make sure you consider this in your feed planning and talk to your levy body or a farm adviser if you need support.”
The Forum is also reminding farmers to ensure their stock are fit for transport.
“Animal welfare during transport should remain a focus. Transport is stressful, and it is important that animals are prepared well for the journey,” said Dr Burton.
“Lactating cows, in particular, need careful preparation and management. Stand them off pasture for 4-12 hours before transport, and provide water and dry feed, supplemented with calcium (lime flour).”
Dr Burton encourages farmers to be aware of where their stock is going, especially as COVID-19 may mean they’re transported to different processing plants than usual.
“Farmers nationwide should be prepared for their animals to have extended journeys, or for collection times to change.
“Everyone across the supply chain – farmers, veterinarians, transporters, stock agents, saleyard operators and processors – has a role to play in protecting the welfare of animals.”
Information on the rules for stock transport can be found here: www.mpi.govt.nz/animalregs
For advice on preparing dairy cattle for transport, talk to your veterinarian. Guidance can also be found here.
Farming under the current pressures can be tough and farmers can seek support from Rural Support Trusts and a range of providers.
Membership of the Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum includes representatives from many groups, including:
- Beef + Lamb NZ
- Dairy Companies Association of NZ
- Deer Industry New Zealand
- Egg Producers Federation New Zealand
- Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand
- Federated Farmers
- Meat Industry Association
- NZ Petfood Manufacturers Association
- New Zealand Pork
- NZ Stock and Station Agents Association
- NZ Veterinary Association
- Road Transport Forum
- Ministry for Primary Industries.