It has been a turbulent week for ANZCO's Five Star Beef feedlot in Mid Canterbury.
New Zealand's only large-scale commercial feedlot has come under attack from the animal activist organization SAFE earlier in the week, and yesterday was issued with a "notice of direction" from MPI after being suspected of having Mycoplasma bovis.
ANZCO's Foods General Manager Agriculture & Livestock Grant Bunting spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay to defend the animal welfare at his company.
Bunting says the cattle at the feedlot are in good condition and the practise is not to be confused with "cage farming and sow crates."
"The cattle are in pens but ... to give you some idea of scale [the pens] are 60 metres by 60 metres so it's intensive but not to the point where they're contained."
Mackay says the cattle at the feedlot are given grain and that cows, as ruminants should be fed on grass. Bunting says this isn't completely correct as the cattle eat a combination of grain and grass.
"Grain is certainly part of the diet but that's not all they're consuming."
Some are concerned that the feedlot is open to the elements. Mackay asks why ANZCO doesn't put a roof over the cattle to protect them. Bunting says introducing a roof brings its own set of problems.
"It might for some satisfy concerns around weather, wind and others but at that point too you've then effectively got an enclosure and with that could come other challenges just in terms of the environment that's created ... that in itself isn't necessarily a solution."
Overall Bunting says animal welfare is paramount at the feedlot.
"We take the welfare considerations very seriously. These cattle aren't confined ... We have a nutritionist that is involved in regards to the ration so we're sensitive to their diet. The staff we employ are well placed in terms of welfare."
Also in today's interview: Grant Bunting talks about the Mycoplasma bovis discovery at the feedlot.