New rules for dehorning and disbudding cattle will come into effect from October 1, 2019 says the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The new rules will require people working with cattle to use local anaesthetic when dehorning and disbudding.
Removing horns or horn buds is necessary on farm to keep animals safe from each other, as well as for human safety, said MPI's Veterinarian and director animal health and welfare Dr Chris Rodwell.
"These regulations highlight that removal is painful and those carrying it out need to reduce the pain experienced".
"Veterinarians and industry organisations have been encouraging the use of pain relief for many years, and we know a lot of people are already using it" said Rodwell.
"The new rules will bring everyone up to the same standard, and improve the welfare of cattle, by making it clear that local anaesthetic, prescribed by a New Zealand veterinarian, must be used and applied correctly".
MPI said in a statement that the rules will apply to all cattle, regardless of age and failure to abide by the requirements from October 1, 2019 will be a criminal offence.
A prosecution could result in a criminal conviction and fine under the regulations.
"If you're not already using local anaesthetic, talk to your veterinarian about training and the supply of local anaesthetic" said Rodwell.
"Whether they're beef or dairy, whether you have 2,000 cows or just two friendly steers on your lifestyle block, make sure you're up to speed with the new requirements".
"The same applies if you're purchasing calves to rear or finishing your spring calving. If you're using a disbudding contractor, make sure they follow the requirements too".
There are two new regulations, both part of the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018, issued under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and first announced in 2018.
MPI said it developed these by working closely with veterinarians, the livestock sector, National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the SPCA.