Organic Dairy Farmers Don’t Abort Calves

Unlike the 200,000 cows callously induced to bring cow herds into milking at the same time, certified organic herds are never at risk of such practices according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.

“Consumers of certified organic milk, cheese and yoghurt can feel confident that animal welfare considerations in organic standards do not allow induction,” said Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“Organic production fits New Zealand’s clean green 100% Pure image in a way that government seems to forget. The Minister of Agriculture knows that New Zealand’s best value markets want products from environmentally sustainable and animal welfare friendly systems, and those markets are prepared to pay.”

TVNZ News highlighted that cows in conventionally farmed herds are permitted to be induced by injection to ensure they birth dead or alive calves months early so that milking can start earlier. Many are born dead and the rest killed.(1)

Although the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) acknowledged in its 2010 Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare report that induction ‘has the potential to affect the welfare of both cow and calf adversely’ and states that it does not support induction, the Report is only a recommendation to the Minister of Agriculture who can ban the practice. (2)

“The Minister has the ability to raise animal welfare standards to match those in the organic standards and production rules of BioGro New Zealand, and AsureQuality,” said Mr Browning. (3)

“The Minister has the power to ‘clean and green’ animal welfare and New Zealand primary production very quickly if he can grasp the vision that most consumers and discerning export markets have.”

“Leaving it to industry to phase out inductions voluntarily is a cop out. The Minister needs to use his leadership ability on animal welfare just as he has on the ETS and water quality, because he knows what the best markets actually want and he knows what is right.”

“Organic production of dairy products doesn’t require the massive amounts of synthetic fertilizers that most conventional farms are using, nor do they have as high vet bills, but have healthier animals producing lower emissions and soils with higher climate tolerance and less leaching of nutrients.”

“Fully certified organic dairy farmers also earn a $1.05 premium on each kilogram of milk solids and customers are prepared to pay for it.” (4)

The New Zealand Organic Report – commissioned by OANZ and prepared by the University of Otago showed total sales of organic dairy products grew almost 400% in two years. The report also showed dairy farms also have 43% more earthworms than their conventional neighbours, and higher levels of biodiversity in soils and waterways, with 58% less leachate headed towards waterways, and sequestering 28% more soil carbon than conventional farms. (5)

“It is time for change and the sooner the government starts setting targets for organic farm conversions the better for animals, consumers, farmers and exporters.”

Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 where animal welfare is of the highest standard and environmentally sustainable organic production is the norm.


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