New Zealand Sheepskin Ethical Sourcing
Most of the sheepskins processed by Auskin Group are sourced from New Zealand. These sheepskins are the bi-product of pastoral farming where sheep are raised primarily for meat.
In November 2014, World Animal Protection released its Animal Protection Index, which ranks 50 countries across the world on their animal welfare standards. This placed New Zealand in first place alongside the United Kingdom, Austria and Switzerland.
This high ranking can be attributed to:
a) The benign natural environment for pastoral farming in New Zealand
b) Comprehensive regulations regarding animal welfare
c) Government enforcement of animal welfare regulations
d) The need to demonstrate to international consumers that New Zealand meat is ethically sourced
e) An active animal rights sector in New Zealand
Benign Natural Environment
Unlike in many other parts of the world where sheep are raised, sheep in New Zealand are grass-fed. The cool to warm temperate climate means that farm animals are able to live outside in a natural environment for 12 months of the year. Sheep are pastorally farmed without the need for factory farming methods: processed supplementary feeding and intensive chemical regimes characteristic of such farming systems are not used.
The legislation that underpins animal welfare regulation in New Zealand is the Animal Welfare Act of 1999 which was substantially clarified and strengthened by amendment in 2015. This Act establishes a duty of care for animals. It sets out the obligations of animal owners or people in charge of animals. They have to meet an animal’s physical, health, and behavioural needs, and must alleviate pain or distress.
The Act defines ‘physical, health and behavioural needs’ as:
- proper and sufficient food and water
- adequate shelter
- the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour
- appropriate physical handling
- protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, injury and disease.
The Act is supported by regulations and codes of welfare:
- Regulations set requirements that must be met or set standards that must not be breached.
- Codes of welfare set out minimum standards and best practice for animal welfare for many animals and animal activities. They play an important role in improving animal welfare in New Zealand.
Government Enforcement of Regulations
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is the primary body responsible for leading, facilitating & enforcing the management of animal welfare policy and practice in New Zealand. See www.mpi.govt.nz
It is supported in this by two independent statutory bodies:
- The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee
- The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee
MPI Verification Services operates an on-farm verification programme focusing on farms where the main activity is the supply of beef cattle, sheep/lambs, deer, goats or horses to meat processing companies for export. The programme underpins the export certification that MPI provides for export of animal products to the European Union.
A critical part of this verification service is an animal status declaration (ASD). This ensures that critical information for each animal is passed along with the animal as it moves off farm and ultimately to the meat processing company. Included in this ASD is an animal welfare statement.
Private Initiatives Concerning Animal Welfare
The need to demonstrate to international supermarket groups and their customers that New Zealand meat is ethically sourced is driving private initiatives by the major meat processing companies concerning animal welfare. They have developed accreditation programmes for their farmer suppliers as a mechanism to raise standards and increase compliance.
Examples of such programmes can be found with all major processors of New Zealand sheep:
Silver Fern Farms
‘Farm Assured Programme’ that is accredited to ISO / IEC Guide 65 with audits at a minimum frequency of 18 months.
‘Farm Assurance Programme’ that is JAS-ANZ/ISO65 accredited.
‘Select Farm Assurance Programme’ that is accredited to ISO / IEC Guide 65, with 18 month audits.
Active Animal Rights Sector
New Zealand has a very active animal rights sector with many groups dedicated to the protection of animals in New Zealand. They advocate for animals, publishing abuses where they occur and ensure that statutory bodies and corporates responsible for animal welfare are held to account.
ARLAN – Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network
Volunteer based national network of lawyers and law students interested in improving New Zealand’s law as it relates to animals, and working to protect and promote the rights and welfare of animals.
World Society for the Protection of Animals – WSPA
Aims to promote the protection of animals, to prevent cruelty to animals, and to relieve animal suffering in every part of the world.
Animal Liberation NZ
Committed to animal liberation and to educate and inspire action against all forms of animal abuse.
New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society
Campaigns for the abolition of vivisection on the grounds that it is medical and scientific fraud.
MAF Animal Welfare Group
Promotes policies appropriate to society’s expectations for the humane treatment of animals.
RNZSPCA National Office
Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
International League for the Protection of Horses (NZ)
Acts as an equine lobby group and equine welfare watchdog.
Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre
Aims to promote via scientific research, education and advice, the humane and responsible care of animals, and to develop and apply ethical principles to guide human-animal interactions and the use of biotechnology.
Humane Society of NZ
Aims to achieve widespread improvement in people’s attitudes and sense of responsibility towards animals.
Auckland Animal Action + Wellington Animal Action
Grassroots activist groups that promote direct action against all forms of animal abuse.
SAFE is a national organisation dedicated to campaigning for the rights of all animals.
Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching.