Calves starve to death on NZ’s largest dairy farm

Yep, it’s the Crafar boys again.


Poor management and the pressures of massive debts obtained during rapid expansion meant this farm was so poorly managed that none of the staff trained the calves to drink milk, allowing them to die of dehydration in a muddy pen even though their trough was often full.

And this is not the first time:

MAF’s inspectors were called in to this farm and others in the Crafar Farms group many times in recent years, yet this and others like it were allowed to keep operating.

Crafar Farms pleaded guilty to 56 charges of neglecting dozens of dead and dying cows at one of its Hawkes Bay farms in September 2006, but was fined just NZ$200 and allowed to continue operating, Hawkes Bay Today reported.

$200! Haha. The cost / time of driving to court and back is worse than the fine

This is what growth at all costs gets you. Thankfully most farmers are nothing like the Crafars. Clearly MAF is pretty spineless, aye?

Read the full story on – the comments at the bottom are really good. Lots of farmers telling their stories, and well informed opinion.

10 Comments Posted

  1. I don’t think that the welfare act above (s24) will convict the manager, let alone the Crafars. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Don’t let this one go!!
    Can ‘willfully ill-treating an animal’ be defended with: ignorance of the workers; broken legs/hospital/absent in Kaitaia on the part of the manager; and delegation of responsibility on the part of the Crafars?

    NZ has forgotten the exposing video of the piggery a few weeks back and I think the plight of these calves will fade in NZer’s memories shortly.

    Although this case is unlikely to represent a significant portion of the industry, it highlights the need for protocols relating to the slaughter of unwanted calves. If (as Crafar says) it costs $7 to get a bobby on the truck for which you get ~$1 for, they may as well be slaughtered at birth. Not everyone has a gun liscence. Are we OK with the use steel bars? If so, does the person with the steel bar need some training? Will a vet be called to euth a $1 calf? Unless we can improve welfare standards for our livestock, then the only way to go is with PhilU!
    BTW, I suspect unwanted calves are better off than some unwanted goat kids.

  2. Zetetic over at The Standard has an interesting idea:

    I reckon the Government should just seize the land off them. Ultimately, land owners only own title to land, which is subsidiary to the radical title held by the Crown. The Crafars refuse to use their title with respect for the law, their animals, and our environment. Their titles should be confiscated.

    I agree. The State can seize property from cannabis dealers if they cannot prove it was legitimately acquired. It should also be able to seize property from people who repeatedly and deliberately breach the Resource Management Act or the Animal Welfare Act on that property, which imo is a far worse level of criminal offending.

  3. I am old enough to remember the Draglines digging huge pits & the cows being shot & dumped into them.
    This Country always does the boom & bust cycle.
    Animals are just economic units to these money grubbers.
    They have no feeling for anything except the thrill of profit.
    They would sell their own into slavery if they could get enough for them & not be caught.
    Most of them can buy their way out of any situation that discomforts them.
    Not one in a hundred of them is ever convicted of their crimes.

  4. I was watching a 20/20 or 60 minutes-type documentary a few weeks ago about the terrible animal rights abuses which occur when live farm animals are shipped to the Middle East. My family was horrified and I pointed out that I didn’t think the NZ farming industry treated animals much better. I was immediately shot down for this, and was fed the familiar line that I should be grateful for the NZ farming/dairy industry and that we’d all be toast without them.

    I feel quite vindicated by this story.

  5. No big business is immune from corruption and greed, dig deep enough and you will find similar examples such as this hidden away hoping never to be discovered. Crafar is a mismanaged example of excessive profit driven growth, Fonterra has spin doctors to hide it. Maf dont want to rock the boat, pathetic.

  6. Animal Welfare Act, section 24:

    24 Wilful ill-treatment of animals
    (1) A person commits an offence who wilfully ill-treats an animal in such a way that—
    (a) the animal is permanently disabled; or
    (b) the animal dies; or
    (c) the pain or distress caused to the animal is so great that it is necessary to destroy the animal in order to end its suffering.
    (2) A person who commits an offence against this section is liable on conviction on indictment,—
    (a) in the case of an individual, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to both; or
    (b) in the case of a body corporate, to a fine not exceeding $250,000.

    Lets hope the full force of the law comes down on them this time. There will always be cowboys like this in the industry unless the Courts start imposing deterrent sentences.

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