WELLINGTON, NZ – David Carter, New Zealand’s agriculture minister, has defended his decision to exempt the Jewish tradition of shechita from animal welfare law changes, despite labeling the chicken slaughter practice as "frankly cruel," according to theNew Zealand Herald.

New Zealand should have the highest animal welfare standards, he said, but he added he had to weigh that up against the religious rights of the Jewish community. He ruled in May all commercially killed animals must be stunned before slaughter to "ensure that the animals are treated humanely", which effectively outlawed kosher killing, called shechita.

However, the Jewish community took the issue to court and the case was due to be heard on Nov. 29. But after months of negotiations with Crown Law, an agreement was reached on Nov. 26 to allow about 5,000 chickens to be killed a year – but this could be extended through talks.

Approximately 1,000 Jewish families would have been affected, Jewish community leader David Schwartz told Radio New Zealand. He added kosher chicken cannot be sourced globally because of Newcastle's Disease.