SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Handling of Farmed Animals

Farmed Animals

SPCA advocates that all farmed animals be treated humanely throughout any handling procedures.

All animal handlers should be experienced and competent in low-stress, force-free handling, and restraint techniques and should understand the behaviours and needs of the animals in their care.

Where possible, training using positive reinforcement should be used to control the movement of animals, minimise the negative welfare impacts of introducing animals to unfamiliar environments or handling, and encourage voluntary participation in management practices.

SPCA advocates that facilities used for handling and loading (such as ramps and races) should be designed to minimise stress to the animals.

Where possible, facilities should be designed to facilitate low-stress, force-free handling and minimise the negative welfare impacts associated with moving animals. Steps should be taken to minimise aversive stimuli which may increase stress in animals, such as noise and high contrast in light levels.

SPCA opposes the use of inappropriate methods for moving, restraining, holding or carrying animals, such as the use of electric prods, striking animals and holding or carrying animals upside down for extended periods of time.

The animals must never be hit, kicked or harmed in any way by the animal handler or devices. Goads and electric prodders must not be used. It is never acceptable to prod or hit animals in the udder, anus, genital regions including vulva or scrotum, the whole head including eyes, nose, ears, and any injured or diseased area.

(see Electric Prodders and Goads for more details)

SPCA advocates that animals who are unable to walk must be swiftly and humanely killed in situ without being moved.

Where animals are unable to walk, and treatment is not feasible, they must be humanely euthanased immediately.

(see Casualty Animals for more details)

SPCA advocates for humane farming practices in which animals are kept in stable, long-term social groups throughout their lives whenever possible.

All farmed animal species kept for commercial purposes in New Zealand are social animals who should be kept in stable groups throughout their lives whenever possible.

SPCA advocates for the development and widespread application of more humane methods of handling poultry across the farming industry.

Chickens must be handled humanely at all times. Prior to depopulation, birds should be caught efficiently and in blue light (or other proven suitable dark lighting conditions) in order to minimise stress. Although our organisation acknowledges that inverting birds and carrying them by a single or both leg/s is the industry’s common method for handling chickens, SPCA supports the recommended best practice that meat chickens should be carried around the body and kept upright. Turkeys must never be carried by their legs, but should be caught and lifted by the wing and opposite leg (allowing them to be supported under the breast in the hold position).

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