New campaign targeting earlier castration of calves
Moves are underway to reduce the age limits for castration of calves without pain relief from six months to two months of age.
A communication and education campaign will be rolled out to inform farmers of the benefits and reasons behind any agreed changes.
Department vets have highlighted that castration is more painful and stressful in older calves than younger animals.
The Department's scientific advisory committee has recommended that calves castrated by the Burdizzo method without the use of local anaesthetic should have it carried out as young as possible.
It is recommending that the upper age limit for castrating a bull calf without local anaesthetic should be reduced from six months to as close as possible to two months.
However, the age limit for castration using a rubber ring will remain unchanged at eight days. The move to change the regulations also follows Dutch supermarket buyers continuing to raise issues around castration.
Legislation varies from country to country, with most requiring local anaesthetic to be used.
Opinions will be sought from farm organisations and stakeholders on the changes.