Animal rights group Farmwatch says it has discovered an open offal pit on a Northland farm full of hundreds of cows and calves. Some have had their throats slit.
The farm is the same one where hidden cameras captured a contract milker abusing cows in a milking shed. The farm owners have since stopped him from working with animals unsupervised.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), which is carrying out an investigation of the abuse, were approached for comment about the offal pit, as were the farm owners.
DairyNZ, who relayed a message from the owners to the media last Friday, said it had informed the owners the media wanted to speak with them.
DairyNZ was not managing media inquiries on their behalf, and it was up to the owners to contact media if they wanted. The owners have not contacted Stuff over the latest incident.
MPI manager compliance investigation Gary Orr said as it was an active investigation, MPI could not go into any further detail or specifics of the case as it did not want to prejudice what may be provided to a court.
“Any animal abuse is abhorrent and we expect people to be upset by what they would see in the photos. The allegations of animal welfare abuse are actively being investigated by MPI. MPI executed a search warrant on the Northland property on Thursday 28 June. MPI and an external vet inspected the property and the herd over two days. This included inspection of the carcasses in the offal pit.” Orr said.
He added that offal pits in general were regulated by local authorities which managed the rules around the location of offal pits and disposal of dead stock. When it came to a matter of animal welfare, MPI would inspect carcasses in an offal pit.
The group Save Animals from Exploitation (Safe) released photos and video of the offal pit.
Safe spokesman Hans Kriek said after receiving serious animal welfare complaints from farm workers, MPI should have examined the body pit to determine if any of the animals had been violently abused.
Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said in the Waikato where he farmed, companies picked up dead calves or cows and he paid $30 per cow.
“I ring up an 0900 number, they pick up my dead animals and I pay $30 for the privilege.”
He said he was not sure of the situation in Northland. The abuse case was related to an individual and did not reflect the industry’s practice.
Asked why the farm owners did not do anything if they knew what was happening, Lewis said “at the end of the day the buck always stops with the employer”.
“I have contracts with different people, so although farm staff may ring up the vet or Farmlands, it’s all done in my name.”
Farmwatch spokesman John Darroch said Fonterra – who he said picked milk up off the farm – could not claim it upheld the highest standards of animal welfare when it must have known the problem had been occurring for some time.
By: GERARD HUTCHING