SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Social Bonds

Farmed Animals

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

Farmed animals should be kept in appropriate stable groups throughout their lives to meet their social needs.

Animals should be able to carry out a range of species-specific behaviours, such as the formation and maintenance of preferred partner bonds. These bonds help animals adapt to new environments and cope with stressors.

Disrupting social groups by mixing animals, or separating bonded animals, should be avoided.

It is acknowledged that animals may need to be removed from social groups for husbandry, health or welfare reasons. Even in these cases, social animals should be kept within sight, sound or smell of other animals wherever possible.

SPCA advocates that young animals are reared with their mothers in a suitable environment and in stable, long-term social groups.

A socially restricted early environment is detrimental to the welfare of young animals. Early separation of young mammals from their dams has long-term effects on behaviour, stress reactivity and the ability to cope with different challenges for both offspring and dams.

(See ‘Young Animals in the Dairy Industry’ for more information)

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