Best Practices

Sustainable farming implementing 'Best Practice'

Sustainable Farming using 'Best Practice'

At NZPork, we provide our farmers with ongoing support to ensure they have access to the latest knowledge to facilitate well managed environmental practices, as well as high standards of animal welfare management.

Our work goes hand-in-hand with our national and regional involvement to ensure sound policy development, and a better understanding of our unique industry.

From time to time, NZPork publishes guidelines, regulation updates and manuals to support  best practice on-farm.

Animal welfare

Our PigCare™ welfare assurance programme illustrates the importance New Zealand pig farmers place on providing high standards of welfare for their pigs.

In New Zealand, animal welfare is governed by the Animal Act 1999, which places a duty of care on all animal owners and persons in charge of animals. Codes of welfare provide further details in regard to particular species (e.g. Pigs) and functions (e.g. Transport). In 2015, the Animal Welfare Act was amended to provide for the issue of regulations. NZPork was actively engaged in this process to develop regulations.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act.

PigCare™ auditors must report any serious animal welfare breach to MPI. MPI has a process for investigating and remedying the issue(s).

You can ensure the New Zealand pork industry maintains good animal welfare standards for pigs by choosing pork products that carry the New Zealand pork Born and Raised in New Zealand and PigCare™ label.

Animal Health

The New Zealand pig herd has one of the highest health statuses in the world. This means pigs born and raised in New Zealand are not exposed to a number of very severe and debilitating pests and diseases suffered by pigs in most other countries.

Our pigs’ high health status has many benefits in terms of animal welfare and productivity, and is highly cherished by our farmers. Our high health status also means that our pigs do not need antibiotics to treat a wide range of diseases that pigs raised in other countries may be affected by.

For New Zealand pigs, management of health and injury is assured via its assessment within the PigCare™ audit.

Minimising the Potential for the Development of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

Antibiotics are an important tool to prevent and cure disease in animals and humans. However, there are significant concerns internationally, including in New Zealand, about increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the lack of new antibiotics being developed. NZPork works alongside MPI to promote the responsible use of antibiotics in pig farming, in cases where antibiotics are required to provide for animal welfare.


Antibiotics used on pig farms must always be under the direction of a veterinarian. NZPork provides Responsible Use guidelines which emphasise consideration of other options including non-antibiotic treatments, vaccination and changing management practices; and where antibiotic treatment is required, the selection where possible, of specific antibiotics of lesser importance in human and animal medicine.


In 2017, commercial pig farmers unanimously supported an industry-agreed position not to use two classes of antibiotics classed as critically important to human health (fluoroquinolones and third and fourth-generation cephalosporins) except under exceptional circumstances.


By applying good practice in animal welfare and health on-farm, and following NZPork’s Responsible Use of Antibiotics guidelines, antibiotics will continue to be available in those cases where they are critical to provide for pig health and welfare.


NZPork has provided guidelines to assist farmers to develop their own individually tailored on-farm biosecurity protocol.

On-farm biosecurity measures are individually tailored to each farm to support its particular health status. Farms that provide breeding stock or genetic material via semen for artificial insemination will be of high health status and  will have stringent biosecurity measures to maintain this.

Given how critically important biosecurity is to the New Zealand pork industry, NZPork actively engages with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to seek the appropriate level of protection for the New Zealand pig herd.

NZPork was the second New Zealand industry, and the first animal-based industry, to enter into a government-industry agreement (GIA) as a partner with MPI with the objective of delivering better biosecurity for the industry.

Environmental management

Each farming style faces different challenges, and we work to ensure our farmers understand compliance requirements regarding nutrient management, water quality, climate change, effluent systems and waste management.

Our Environmental Advisor provides policy advice, including engagement with regional and district environmental planning. Submissions are prepared in consultation with farmers and are submitted on the industry’s behalf.

Nutrient budgets for outdoor piggeries are completed using the outdoor pig module of OVERSEERFM.

NZPork's Farm Environment Plan (FEP) template assists our farmers to meet compliance requirements for their district and regional rules and resource consents, as well as managing environmental risks and issues.

The aim is to support sustainable land management, efficient use of resources, and provide a framework to progress environmental protection and enhancement. Measuring, monitoring and mitigating impacts will have economic, social and environmental benefits.

We ensure that the interests of the industry are represented where environmental issues or regulations are concerned by preserving the right to farm, leadership on environmental stewardship and reducing cost of compliance.

Health & Safety

The wellbeing of our industry and its people is extremely important to us. Our staff are our family, friends and community members, so we must ensure they go home safely every day.

Health and safety regulations are there to look after every member of our industry, whether they be staff, contractors, visitors or family. Also, proper health and safety practices enable our pork producers to remain productive and profitable.

Food Safety and Suitability

NZPork works to support the provision of pig meat that is safe and suitable to consumers in a range of ways.

NZPork facilitates the application of good agricultural practice (GAP) on farm, including to meet all regulatory requirements, and sets industry positions on production practices to enhance consumers’ perception of pork from pigs born and raised in New Zealand. For example, the industry has adopted an agreed position that it does not use added growth hormones, and has put in place a declaration within the regulatory required Animal Status Declaration to confirm this.

NZPork and our farmers are proud that New Zealand pork produced from pigs born and raised in New Zealand tastes good, is safe and suitable to consumers, and is supported by production qualities including our world class animal health, welfare and commitment to environmental sustainability.

For all these reasons we are strong supporters of mandatory Country of Origin labelling for pork, bacon and ham, so that New Zealand consumers are provided with information to differentiate New Zealand produced pork from pork products that are imported or manufactured from import sourced pork.

Stockperson Training in Pig Handling

ProHand Pigs

ProHand Pigs Stockperson Training is an internationally recognised online course available to pig farm and pig processing plant staff in New Zealand, free of charge.

ProHand was developed by the Animal Welfare Science Centre at the University of Melbourne, to enhance positive interactions between pigs and stockpersons in recognition of the vital role that people play in the welfare outcomes of the pigs under their care. ProHand Pigs focuses on minimising handling stress, while promoting positive human-animal interactions. Research has illustrated that this approach can improve animal welfare and performance, as well as work motivation and job satisfaction.

The programme targets key attitudes and behaviours that have been shown to have a direct effect on pigs’ fear of humans, together with specific advice on when, where, and how stockperson behavioural change should occur, plus strategies to maintain this behavioural change.

The computer-based training allows staff to progress at their own pace and provides summaries and reviews to check progress through each module. The program takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and is designed for all levels of literacy. Education is provided about recognising fear responses in pigs, and demonstrates how proper, positive behaviours towards pigs can improve their welfare.

The programme’s content builds upon key findings from extensive international research, both in livestock industries and research institutes on factors which affect the welfare and productivity of farm animals. It has been designed and tested on stockpersons at commercia farms around the world.

As of October 2023, 397 individuals in the New Zealand pork sector have enrolled in ProHand Pigs.


Other resources

There are some free, well developed resources that also provide education on low stress pig handling and stockperson health and safety when moving and handling pigs.