Induction of parturition of cattle

Induction of parturition of cattle

Policy type: Policy
: 5k

: Current
Date ratified
: 17 September 2015

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) does not support the routine use of long-acting dexamethasone esters for the induction of parturition in cattle. Premature induction of cattle should only be carried out if dispensation has been granted by the industry or if treatment is justified for the animal’s welfare in which case it can be undertaken as discretionary use.


In 2005 the ACVM removed the routine induction of parturition as a label claim for long-acting dexamethasone esters in New Zealand. Following this, the dairy industry (represented by NZVA, DairyNZ, DCANZ and Federated Farmers) managed a period of transition and reduction of routine inductions at a herd-level until in 2015 routine inductions were not permitted except when dispensation had been granted by a committee comprising the same dairy industry stakeholders.

Exception - dispensation

Farmers can work with their veterinarian to apply for an induction dispensation. This is granted by a panel of people representing the farmer’s milk company, NZVA, Federated Farmers and DairyNZ. Dispensation may be granted only when an adverse event outside of the farmer’s control has had a significant and proven impact on reproductive performance of the herd.

The NZVA fully supports the dispensation process and provides technical expertise when required for the dispensation application decisions.

Exception – discretionary use

Induction for medical or welfare reasons (i.e. hydrops, fetal oversize) on an individual cow basis remains permissible under discretionary (off label) use. In such cases a veterinarian must be able to justify use under the Veterinary Council of New Zealand’s Code of Professional Conduct ‘’Statement on the Discretionary Use of Human and Veterinary Medicines by Veterinarians’’. Veterinarians should note that failure to comply with the COPC in relation to using veterinary medicines may result in a complaint being laid before VCNZ and/or a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation under the ACVM Act or the Animal Welfare Act.

Prostaglandins are registered for early termination of pregnancy in cattle and for management of parturition and are therefore not included in the restrictions on routine inductions.


For specific circumstances outside a farmer’s direct control that have a direct impact on reproductive performance (eg. adverse climatic event, disease outbreak at the time of or leading into breeding), farmers may apply to their respective dairy company, via their veterinarian, for a short-term dispensation to carry out inductions (see requirements table below).

The dispensation request must be accompanied by good evidence of the direct impact on reproductive performance and of the steps taken to mitigate the situation and avoid a repeat event. A good case history with supporting documentation must be provided. Dispensation will not be granted for inductions to compensate for an increased culling rate for other reasons.

Failure to effectively provide for the nutritional needs of cows and heifers prior to breeding will not be grounds to apply for a dispensation. Also failure to properly oversee grazing contracts will not attract automatic dispensations. In addition, failure to sufficiently protect the herd against BVD infection will not support a dispensation. Farmers who have concerns about the performance of AB technicians should talk to the breeding company in the first instance. Financial issues per se will not be grounds for granting a dispensation.

  1. Dispensation requests are initially reviewed by the supplier’s dairy company against the agreed qualifying criteria. For complex requests, a review panel of representatives from NZVA, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and DCANZ will be consulted to ensure consistent decision making.
  2. With no routine inductions available for the 2016/17 season, farmers should be making informed decisions around reproduction, culling and herd purchasing, and be vigilant about scanning and pregnancy dates for cows. The “no routine inductions” rule applies to all cows regardless of breed or farming system. To help prepare for the 2016/17 calving, farmers are encouraged to get further advice from their veterinarian.
  3. In situations where individual cattle are required to be induced for animal welfare reasons such as foetal oversize or a deformed foetus, this decision lies with the attending veterinarian and does not require a dispensation application to be submitted.

Veterinarians can contact Nita Harding, DairyNZ (technical policy advisor) for further information or phone (07) 858 3735/ 021 225 9138.

Information to accompany dispensation applications

This information is provided to assist veterinarians making applications for induction dispensations and can be used as a checklist to ensure all necessary information is provided. Applications must be entered into the Induction Reporting Centre ( and the relevant documents uploaded to the application, before they will be considered.

Background information and herd management – required for all applications
  • An outline of the reason for the application (what is the problem?)
  • Case history clearly demonstrating veterinary involvement and the steps taken to manage the situation at the time.
  • What actions are being taken to prevent the same situation happening again?
  • Reasoning for the requested % of herd / number of cows.
Evidence of impact on reproductive performance – required for all applications
  • Fertility Focus Reports or equivalent for the current season and at least the previous season, preferably for the previous two seasons.
  • Daily submission rates and daily conception rates if available.
  • Return interval analysis.
Evidence of situation outside farmer’s control – as appropriate for the application
AB failure Letter from AB company regarding AB technician performance
Farmer health Explanation of circumstances where farmer health issues have impacted on reproductive performance of the herd
Severe weather event etc Explanation of circumstances where a severe weather event, earthquake or other natural event has occurred, and how this has impacted on the reproductive performance of the herd
Falsified records Explanation of circumstances where falsified records are claimed, and this must include evidence of follow up action being taken by the purchaser of the animals

Evidence of an outbreak of BVD (eg. lab reports)

Details of the disease control programme prior to the outbreak

Completed BVD template to cover the ongoing management of the herd to manage the risk in the future

Other animal health issues

Evidence of the disease outbreak/ health issue including lab reports etc. as appropriate

Details of the disease control / health management programme on farm prior to the outbreak

Details of the actions being taken to prevent the same situation happening again (preventative health plan)