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Farmed animal welfare law in New Zealand: investigating the gap between the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and its delegated legislation

Animal welfare Farming Animal rights New Zealand

Animal welfare exists on a spectrum. Inevitably animal welfare organisations, industry, governmental organisations and the public sit at various points along this spectrum, with each stakeholder having their own expectations for what constitutes an appropriate standard of farmed animal welfare.

This report is part of that evolutionary process of continual improvement, as it comprehensively analyses the codes of welfare (‘codes’) and regulations established under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (the Act) and the processes by which the codes and regulations were established.

The authors have undertaken an evidenced-based, fine-grained analysis of the codes of welfare and regulations for dairy cattle, pigs, layer hens and meat chickens, as well as analysing the lack of (and need for) a code of welfare for farmed fish. This includes undertaking a comprehensive review of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee’s (NAWAC) reports to the relevant codes of welfare, and the scientific literature NAWAC reviewed in creating the codes.


The analysis has revealed a substantial gap between the overarching standards of animal welfare prescribed by the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the standards that are provided for in its delegated legislation, being codes of welfare and regulations. In particular, this delegated legislation fails to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs’ of animals are met, as required by s 10 of the Act. There is then a demonstrable need for the codes of welfare and regulations to be reviewed.



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