New Measures for Handling Velvet May 2017
Click here to download a copy of the letter "Important notice for all farmers handling velvet" sent to farmers >>
What is the National Velvetting Standards Body?
The National Velvetting Standards Body ('NVSB') is a committee comprising-
- 2 farmer representatives nominated by deer industry levy payers and approved by the NZDFA Council; and
- 2 veterinarians nominated and approved by the New Zealand Veterinary Association ('NZVA').
Appointment onto the comittee is for a period of 3 years. The administrative work to support the NVSB is carried out by the Deer Industry New Zealand ('DINZ') Executive, subject to funding approval from the Board of DINZ. The costs of running the NVSB's registration, supervision and audit programmes are directly recovered from velvetters applying for registration and who are registered.
What is the purpose of the NVSB?
The mission of the NVSB is to implement the Code of recommendations and minimum standards for the welfare of deer during the removal of antlers ( View Codes here )
What does NVSB do?
- Implements a national velvet removal training and certification programme ('programme') and provide appropriate management of the programme such that farmers wishing to velvet their own animals under veterinary supervision do so within the framework as established in the Code, having been trained and certified to an internationally acceptable standard
- Ensures that the programme operates efficiently and effectively, and reports to the constituent bodies accordingly
- Effects the distribution of training manuals to veterinarians
- Maintains a management system for recording critical information
- Monitors and records the progress towards certification of individual farmers and communicates results to veterinarians and farmers systematically
- Provides a contract for execution between velvetters and their supervisory veterinarians
- Ensures appropriate training of veterinarians and arranges for veterinary assessment of farmers wishing to become certified
- Communicates the development and implementation of the programme and other related issues to deer farmers, veterinarians and the relevant animal welfare regulators (Ministry for Primary Industries, MPI)
- Mediates and arbitrates in situations requiring independent judgement and resolves technical and administrative issues as they occur
- Establishes policies and procedures to achieve maximum farmer and veterinary compliance with the programme
- Conducts an audit programme in collaboration with Deer Industry New Zealand ('DINZ')
- Reviews and reports on the performance of the programme, and modifies it where necessary after consultation with DINZ, MPI, NZVA and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee ('NAWAC').
- Provides annual reports to the Chief Veterinary Officer on the performance of the working parties.
The NVSB programme covers the legal and ethical responsibilities of those involved in velvetting and all practical elements of velvet removal, starting with stag mustering to the monitoring of the velvetted stag after its return to the paddock.
Essentially the programme trains non-veterinarians how to velvet deer in accordance withstrict guidelines and under the oversight of a nominated veterinarian.
The role and requirements of the programme are transparent and applicable in the same way to every non-veterinarian wishing to velvet deer. The programme has integrity in that it is audited and supervised by veterinarians as well as the NVSB. The outcome of successful completion of the programme is certification to velvet under veterinary supervision.
The velvetter can choose to be certified for any or all of the following methods for removing, or preventing velvet growth:
- Chemical restraint (with local analgesia)
- Local anaesthetic (with physical restraint)
- NaturOTM ring procedures for Spikers (including the cable tie method)
- NaturOTM rings in Fallow deer
What are the stages towards certification?
To register on the NVSB programme, the velvetter needs to sign a supervisory contract with a supervising veterinarian (see next section) and pay the initial joining fee to the NVSB. Material will then be supplied to the applicant such as the Farmer Velvet Antler Removal Manual ('Manual'). The applicant must then pass three stages of evaluation:
- Stage One
The first stage requires passing a multiple choice theory test. The applicant completes those sections of the test relating to the velvet removal techniques he or she wishes to use. The completed test is marked by the NVSB.
- Stage Two
Stage two is a visit conducted by the Supervising Veterinarian and covers facilities, a practical assessment and oral questions. Before this visit, the velvetter will undertake training from the Supervising Veterinarian to attain competence to at least the minimum standards specified in the Manual. The practical assessment includes the Supervising Veterinarian observing at least 3 stags being velvetted. If, despite passing the evaluation, the Supervising Veterinarian nevertheless considers that the welfare of the animals requires further supervision of the appliance, the veterinarian has a duty to undertake more supervisory visits at the applicant's expense, although oral questions and formal assessments need not be repeated.
- Stage Three
Stage three is an assessment conducted by an independent assessing veterinarian and again includes assessment of facilities, practical assessment and oral questions. The applicant must be competent to at least the minimum standards specified in the Manual . The assessment includes the veterinarian observing at least 3 stags being velvetted. The applicant's Supervising Veterinarian organises the assessing veterinarian visit and this may be a combined stage two visit and stage three visit at the Supervising Veterinarianís discretion. An assessment visit may not replace a supervising visit.Programme requirements in subsequent seasons
Each velvetter certified for Local Anaesthetic and Chemical Restraint must have a Supervisory Veterinarian visit at the start of each season to assess both theoretical and practical competence, using the same criteria as the initial training. The veterinarian's duty to visit more frequently during the velvet season continues where he or she considers this necessary for the welfare of the animals.
All certified velvetters must pay an annual fee.
To fulfill the requirements for the supply, storage and use of registered animal remedies and to ensure the welfare of stags during the removal of velvet, the programme requires the keeping of accurate records relating to velvet removal. Records must include details of the following:
- stag numbers
- drug usage
- deaths and unusual reactions
- use of NaturOTM rings
- details of the identification tags used
A Velvet Record Book is supplied for this purpose to a new velvetter and annually thereafter, before the season commences. By 31 March, each velvetter must have returned his or her completed Velvet Record Book to the supervising veterinarian, as well as any unused drugs, including partially used containers. It is the supervising veterinarian's responsibility to advise the NVSB of the velvet record book return and drug reconciliation.
The minimum penalty for failure to comply with NVSB programme requirements is revocation of certification for at least one velvetting season.
What is the supervisory contract?
Due to legal and ethical requirements it is necessary for a formal written contract to exist between the farmer wishing to carry out velvetting and his or her Supervising Veterinarian. Essentially, since lawful velvet removal by a non-veterinarian involves joint responsibility being taken by velvetter and veterinarian for the welfare of stags during the removal of velvet antler, what joint responsibility means in practical terms is set out under agreed terms (the contract). The terms cover the supply, storage and use of prescription animal remedies and is supplied by the NVSB for signature by the velvetter and veterinarian.
The contract relates to velvet removal on one property only. If a velvetter moves properties, changes the Supervising Veterinarian, or a Supervising Veterinarian moves practices, a new contract must be signed to ensure the programme remains valid.
In the case of a farmer who is responsible for the direct care of deer on more than one property there must be a separate contract for each property and each property will need to be assessed in consecutive seasons. A separate certificate is issued for each property.
Receipt of the signed contract by the NVSB confirms registration of the farmer for this programme and the relationship between farmer and Supervisory Veterinarian.
Audit of the NVSB programme entails monitoring of people and processes to verify whether those acting under the programme are fully compliant with its requirements. Systematic monitoring of the programme encourages compliance and therefore enables the deer industry to prove that that high standards of animal welfare are being maintained by its farmers. Examples of non-compliance that audit is designed to discover and deter are non-certified people velvetting their deer, certified people who have temporarily and voluntarily withdrawn from the programme (these people are said to be 'in abeyance') continuing to velvet their deer, using velvetting drugs for purposes other than for velvetting and mis-reporting or non-reporting of velvetting drug administration.
All velvetters are eligible to be audited no matter what technique they are certified for. The NVSB selects velvetters for audit, approves veterinarians as independent auditors and allocates the selected velvetters to particular auditors. The auditor arranges the audit with the velvetter. The audit will include facilities, practical assessment and oral questions. The auditor is required to inspect the reconciled Velvet Record Book and the velvetting drugs on hand.
The NVSB and Supervising Veterinarian will be notified of the outcome of the audit by the auditor, including any corrective actions to be taken by the velvetter and Supervisory Veterinarian.
The annual fee paid to the NVSB contributes towards the costs of the annual audit of the programme.
Assessment criteria are used for supervising, assessing veterinarian visits and audits. To ensure consistency and to assist participants, assessments are recorded on standard documentation and a copy is always provided to the velvetter.
A major non-compliance is a contravention of any legal requirement and/or something that directly jeopardises the safety/welfare of the stag and/or safety/welfare of the velvetter.
A major non-compliance is a contravention of any requirement relating to-
- drug storage
- drug record-keeping
- drug hygiene
- contingency responses
- alleviation of stress
- competency to carry out reversal technique
- effective analgesia
- effective velvet removal
- tourniquet application
- operator safety
- test for analgesia
A minor non-compliance is a circumstance where the requirements of the programme are not met but in a manner that does not contravene any legal requirements and/or directly jeopardise the safety/welfare of the stag and/or safety/welfare of the velvetter.
Under a facilities assessment, major non-compliances must be addressed immediately and minor non-compliances must be addressed prior to the next Supervising Veterinarian visit.
It is possible to place certification in abeyance once only for a period of up to 3 consecutive seasons. After 3 consecutive seasons in abeyance, certification is revoked and the entire certification process must be completed again before the velvetter can recommence velvetting under veterinarian supervision.
Termination of certification takes place in accordance with the provisions of the supervisory contract. Upon termination the velvetter will be required to surrender such things as all drugs and identification tags on hand.
How do I get started?
Contact the NVSB on (04) 473 4500