Induction of lactation in dairy cattle

Induction of lactation in dairy cattle

Policy type: Policy
Reference
: 5b

Status
: Current
Date ratified
: 19 February 2014

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) does not support the use of substances with oestrogenic, androgenic or progestagenic action for the induction of lactation in dairy cattle. The use of these substances is considered a risk to animal welfare and is contrary to conditions of trade imposed by several of New Zealand’s major trading partners.


Explanation

European Council Directive 96/22/EC and its amendment Directive 2003/74/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council prohibits the use in stock of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action, and of beta-agonists, except:

  • when such products are administered by a veterinarian for therapeutic use, which includes treatment of a fertility problem (including the termination of unwanted gestation); or
  • when used by a veterinarian to synchronize oestrus, for non-cycling animals and to prepare donors and recipients for the implantation of embryos.

This means that the use of these products to induce lactation would be prohibited under the European Directive. With this prohibition in place, the use of such products for the induction of lactation in New Zealand would present a risk to trade with the European Union.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) advises that a working definition of the word “therapeutic” for the purposes of licensing or registering a veterinary medicine is “the administration of a substance/drug to an individual or group of animals for the treatment of disease”. MPI further advises that since the use of products for the induction of lactation in dairy cattle would present a risk to trade in animal products any application to license/register products for this purpose would be likely to be declined.

It should be noted that protocols for the induction of lactation in dairy cattle using oestradiol 17 beta and progesterone drugs are available and have been used for this purpose in the past.


Guidelines

Veterinarians should not use oestrogenic, androgenic or progestagenic substances for the induction of lactation in dairy cattle.

When requested, veterinarians should advise that the use of such substances for the induction of lactation in dairy cattle is contrary to good animal welfare practice, and to European Union policy, and could endanger trade in dairy products from New Zealand into the European Union.