Emissions Reduction Plan Will Mean More Animal Experiments

Emissions Reduction Plan Will Mean More Animal Experiments

The Emissions Reduction Plan announced by the Government will negatively impact animals used in science in a big way and it is our duty to spread the word.

The government will be taking money from other sectors and giving it to the agricultural industry (especially dairy).

A fund for tackling climate change has been created by taxing polluters, but agriculture has always been exempted from paying. Now they get money from that fund. Much of this money will be aimed at using science to tackle greenhouse gasses on farms.

Nearly $340 million of the $2.9b in climate funding will go on setting up a Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions. It will research ways technology can be used to, for example, cut methane on the farm.

What this actually means for animals is cruel experiments and using the results of those cruel experiments to make animals suffer further.

To help you visualise this, here are just a few examples of experiments done on animals used on farms:

The fistulation of animals: Here, researchers essentially cut window-like holes in the side of ruminant animals’ bodies, such as cows, sheep, and deer. This way, the contents of the animal’s stomach can be accessed by simply opening the window and reaching inside. It treats animals as if they are money-making machines rather than sentient beings (which they are recognised as in NZ law).

This technique is used to try and investigate how the ‘efficiency’ of their digestion,1 and their milk production can be increased2 and explore how greenhouse gasses can be reduced.3

It’s used in many other ways, including researching how cows' diet influences the amount of nitrogen in their urine,4 and even tracking the times and places they urinate.5All in the hopes to lower impacts on water quality without having to lower the number of animals.

Cows grazing in a field

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Photo of fistulated cows taken at a Lincoln University facility in Feb 2020.


The use of respiratory chambers: For example, thousands of sheep have been put in respiratory chambers to measure the amount of methane that they produce in research aimed at breeding sheep who burp and fart less.6

Genetically modifying animals: For example, transgenic cows have been cloned and used to try and change milk quality.7

Other examples:

  • Cows have had urine sensors glued around their vulva in research aimed at trying to reduce nitrogen levels in their urine.8
  • Cows were fed a toxic component to see if it would make them too sick if it was used on pastures to reduce nitrogen loss (yes, it did).9
  • Severely underfeeding dairy cows for three weeks to test if limited pasture time decreases nitrogen loss. They lost between 0.5 to 1kg of weight each day.10
  • Feeding 200 calves different diets and killing them just to measure if the diet had an influence on their growth speed and overall emissions.11
  • Sheep spent 2 to 3 days in metabolism crates and respiratory chambers. Afterwards, they had rumen fluid taken with a stomach tube twice to see if the composition of rumen bacteria influences methane emissions.12
  • Sheep were repeatedly injected with a developed “vaccine” to reduce methane emissions. Samples of stomach fluid and blood were taken before all were killed.13

The solution to this huge problem is clear – reduce the number of animals being farmed but instead, we’re chucking on a temporary plaster and trying to find ways of exploiting animals in a way that causes less environmental degradation.

Better yet, the government could be making the bold move to encourage Kiwis to go vegan. When it comes to animal experiments, vegans are having an incredibly positive impact. By not buying animal products, vegans are helping decrease the demand for cruel animal experiments. If we didn’t eat animals, then the need for experiments to make farming animals as profitable as possible, wouldn’t exist.

At NZAVS, the animal agriculture industry can’t sway or override our values, so we can proudly and boldly encourage veganism as one of the many ways that Kiwis can help end cruel animal experiments.

We recently launched a new section on our website - Animals Used In Science for Farms. The first step in tackling this problem is raising awareness. Most people do not realise that the single biggest source of animal experimentation in New Zealand is the agriculture industry. How can we put an end to something that people don’t even know exists?!

And we need your help — during this stage of the campaign, the best thing we can do is spread the word. Please share this article and help connect the dots for people – when the industry says they want to use technology to solve climate change, they really mean more experiments on animals.

Learn more about animals used in science for farms here



  1. https://hdl.handle.net/10182/6687
  2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2017.03.008
  3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN15102
  4. https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2011-4648
  5. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11119-015-9427-4
  6. https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/sky187
  7. https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt783
  8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.20101.009
  9. https://doi.org/10.1080/00480162017.1412840
  10. https://doi.org/3168/jds.2015-10681
  11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2020.104031
  12. https://doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.000245
  13. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159861