Tougher rules around the treatment of bobby calves will start before the spring calving season, but other measures on food and shelter will be delayed until next year.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the new rules will include:

• Calves must be at least 4 days old before being transported for slaughter or sale.

• Transport time must not exceed 12 hours, and young calves cannot be taken across the Cook Strait.

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• Banning the killing of any calves by blunt force trauma, except in emergency situations.

Mr Guy said other regulations would be delayed to allow businesses time to make needed changes. They include:

• Requiring young calves to be fed at least once in the 24 hours before slaughter (February 1).

• Providing suitable shelter for young calves during transportation, and at points of sale or slaughter (August next year).

• Requiring loading and unloading facilities be used when calves are transported for sale and slaughter (August next year).

"The new regulations are part of a suite of wider initiatives by Government and all of the industries involved with bobby calves," Mr Guy said.

"They also provide MPI with a wider set of compliance tools including the ability to impose direct fines for lower-level offending, and a wider set of offences."

The Bobby Calf Action Group is made up of DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, Road Transport Forum, New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Last week, Noel Erickson, 38, of north Waikato, pleaded guilty to 10 charges in the Huntly District Court including willfully and recklessly ill-treating calves and using blunt force trauma.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) launched a probe last September after secret video footage revealed animals being severely mistreated on a farm and in a slaughterhouse.

The footage showed calves being torn from their mothers and left in the hot sun for hours. Bobby calves were also thrown into trucks and beaten to death, and kicked and thrown about at a slaughterhouse.

MPI laid a further four representative charges against a company and an individual last month in relation to alleged animal welfare offences involving bobby calves.

The first hearing for those charges has been set down for June 21.