Dairy giant Fonterra is now prohibiting its suppliers from killing newborn calves on their farms beginning June this year.
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Fonterra bans its milk suppliers from killing bobby calves

Under the new terms, the co-operative told farmers that from the middle of this year, all bobby calves should be given a “useful life” – either raised for beef, slaughtered for calf veal or used for pet food.

In addition, calves can only be killed on-farm when there are “humane reasons” for doing so.

Fonterra bans its milk suppliers from kililng bobby calves

Every year, more than 2 million bobby calves are born as by-products of the dairy industry. They are conceived so that cows can produce milk for human consumption, and killed – deemed as “low value”.

“The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and our members, are positive about the move,” MIA’s industrial operations and manager Richard McColl told News Hub NZ. “We recognise the issues around the reputation risk.”

However, when the new rules were announced, some farmers said they could not handle extra calves because of labour shortages.

“The meat industry was concerned about its ability to process more bobby calves because of a shortage of workers and the short timeframe in which bobby calves were born between August and October,” Rabobank agricultural analyst Genevieve Steven told Stuff NZ.

Furthermore, dairy cattle did not produce as much meat as regular beef cattle. Steven explained there could be benefits if the beef and dairy industries worked together to use bobby calves better.

“The industry first needed to find ways to manage the increased need for bobby calf processing,” she added.

Fonterra said it has been working closely with meat processors, transporters, pet food processors and other industry groups for many months on changes that can be made to support farmers to meet the new terms of supply.

Dairy farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are working to overcome the impacts of substantial flooding. Last week’s storms have left broad swaths of Tulare County under standing water.

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