Animal rights group Safe is calling for CCTV cameras to be placed in all dairy sheds and slaughterhouses.

Both Safe and farm animal advocacy group Farmwatch said this week they've received messages from whistleblowers about animal abuse following news reports about claims of cruelty to dairy cows at a Northland farm.

The groups have called for the Ministry for Primary Industries to be stripped of its animal welfare responsibilities and an independent Animal Welfare Ministry be set up.

Safe said in a statement that an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (1999) could be made, upping the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences to seven years, which would allow the placement of CCTV cameras.

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Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis was reported today as saying a lot of work with animals happened outside the milking shed and it would be impossible to have have cameras over the whole farm to keep an eye on staff.

CCTV would be snooping on staff and would create paranoia he said.

Ministry for Primary Industries acting director of compliance services Gary Orr told Stuff MPI had no legal authority to put cameras on farms for breaches of the Animal Welfare Act.

Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri said yesterday more animal welfare inspectors was a priority.

"Any ill-treatment of animals, regardless of whether they are companion animals, farm animals or animals for entertainment, is not acceptable," Whaitiri told the Herald.

Whaitiri, who has ministerial responsibility for animal welfare, said the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was investigating and she needed to wait for the outcome.

MPI had already investigated claims of ill-treatment against the dairy farmer but the inquiry was dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Hidden video footage shows alleged animal abuse. Photo / Supplied
Hidden video footage shows alleged animal abuse. Photo / Supplied

Farmwatch has been gathering evidence since May and passed fresh evidence to MPI last week.

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Whaitiri is expecting a briefing next week on how MPI investigates animal cruelty cases.

"I think we've got room to improve. Ultimately, as I've said in this framework, resourcing is going to be a critical issue because you can only do what you can if you've got only limited people on the ground.

"We got to think how we do things smarter in partnership with others, to make sure that kind of practice is absolutely removed by not only our farmers but all those who have animals."