SPCA supports the use of preventative management practices to reduce the likelihood of down cows.
A down cow is one that is sitting or lying on the ground and unable to get up. Cows can become recumbent for many reasons, and at any stage of their lactation cycle, but this most commonly occurs around calving time. Preventative measures, such as appropriate bull selection, good feeding and careful mineral supplementation and good springer management can avoid most down cows.
SPCA is concerned about the production demands placed on dairy cattle.
Our organisation advocates that anticipated levels of milk production should be balanced against, and be consistent with, the good health and welfare of the cows. Genetic selection and management practices to increase production levels must not be such that this is detrimental to the cows’ welfare or leaves them with metabolic deficiencies that result in poor health outcomes or do not enable them to perform their natural behaviours.
SPCA supports the rapid diagnosis and early treatment of down cows and opposes the use of hip lifters.
SPCA advocates for the use of floatation therapy or the correct use of slings as the preferable methods to treat down cows. SPCA opposes the use of lifting cows with hip lifters as their use is detrimental to the cow’s welfare, and other preferable alternatives are available (e.g. correct use of slings or the use of floatation tanks). Cows must never be moved using hip lifters.
Cows with a poor prognosis for recovery must be humanely euthanised immediately.
SPCA advocates that Extra consideration is given to cull cows, lactating cows, and pregnant cows to ensure they do not go down during or after transport.
SPCA opposes the transport of sick or injured cattle.
Cull cows, lactating cows, and pregnant cows have specific welfare risks. Efforts need to be made across the supply chain to ensure that these animals are prepared adequately for transport, taken to the nearest processor, and transported in appropriate conditions. SPCA opposes the transport of lactating and cull cows across the Cook Strait.
Sick or injured animals must not be transported, and must either be killed on site, or when a veterinarian certifies that the particular animal can be transported.
(See ‘Transport of Farmed Animals’ for more information)