The number of bobby calf deaths per 10,000 has dropped by half for the second year in a row.

Last year six calves per 10,000 died, down from 68 per 10,000 in 2008, a number Associate Minister of Agriculture responsible for Animal Welfare Meka Whaitiri called "depressing".

Calling the drop in deaths between the farm gate and the works last year a "victory" for animal welfare regulation, Whaitiri congratulated the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the industry.

Welfare regulations adopted in 2016 as a result of the high number of bobby calf deaths as well as the industry's own initiatives had had an impact, she said.

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"The welfare of calves is a collective responsibility so it's important that we keep up the good work to make sure calves are treated humanely."

MPI developed the Animal Welfare (Calves) Regulations and implemented them in 2016, with the final three regulations coming into force in 2017.

"I am delighted there is yet another improvement in the mortality rates around bobby calves, but we must remain vigilant," Whaitiri said.