Three must-know tips for Spring


September 14 2016


Three must-know tips for Spring

With the warm weather returning, it’s a busy time around Hawke’s Bay with calves and lambs. Before you get stuck in making hay, make sure you’re familiar with these three tips and save yourself an unwanted surprise. If you have any queries or concerns, be sure to speak to our rural lawyers.

Do you know the new regulations for bobby calves?

As the dairy industry enters the calving season, familiarise yourself with the new regulations[1] announced in June this year regarding the management and treatment of bobby calves.

You can only present calves considered to be fit for collection and transport. The criteria includes:

  • Calves must be at least four days old (96 hours).
  • Calves must be free from signs of any injury, disease, disability or impairment that could compromise the calf’s welfare during the journey. A calf that has upright ears and bright eyes shows signs for good health.
  • They must have a dry navel, worn hooves, and the ability to stand and move freely to protect themselves from being trampled and injured by other calves.

The regulations also prescribe a maximum duration of 12 hours’ journey time for young calves. They also prohibit you from the killing of any calves by use of blunt force to the head unless there’s an emergency situation.

There are more changes coming to the regulations in 2017. These include:

  • Young calves must be fed at least once in the 24 hours prior to slaughter.
  • You must provide suitable shelter for the calves before and during transportation and at points of sale or slaughter.
  • You must provide and use loading and unloading facilities when transporting young calves for sale and slaughter.

Make sure you and your staff comply with these new regulations. In a prosecution for an offence, it’s not necessary for the prosecutor to prove that the defendant intended to commit an offence. Penalties range from $500 to $25,000.

Are you paying the right wages?

As your workload increases, you may need to bring on extra staff. With lambing and calving now mostly underway, it’s important to remember that all staff must be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. This is a requirement for both staff paid by the hour and salaried staff.

You can calculate the hourly rate for salaried staff by dividing the hours worked in each pay period to calculate an average hourly rate. This rate must not fall below $15.25 per hour, the current adult minimum wage rate. Also be aware you’re not allowed to average hours over the farming season to make this calculation.

Rural fires. Are you insured?

As we enter the dry season, it’s important that you manage the risks associated with fires, but have you also carefully examined your insurance policies?

In a recent High Court case[2] the New Zealand Fire Service Commission sued landowners for the cost of extinguishing a fire that spread from their property through a number of other properties in Canterbury. The High Court found in favour of the New Zealand Fire Service Commission for the total cost of $217,118.

At issue was also whether any of the insurance policies held by Mr & Mrs Legg or their company included an obligation to indemnify Mr & Mrs Legg against the successful claim made by the fire service. The court found the Leggs and their company were entitled to be indemnified by their respective insurance companies for the amount which they were required to pay.

In a nutshell: It pays to check before you get burned.


[1]    Animal Welfare (Calves) Regulations 2016

[2]    New Zealand Fire Service Commission v Legg [2016] NZHC1492


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