ANIMAL activist groups will be on the lookout for animal cruelty this calving.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has warned dairy farmers they should "assume that they are being monitored" when handling bobby calves.
Animals Australia has also flagged "observers" visiting some saleyards.
"The use of cows for their milk is inherently cruel and tearing day-old calves away from their distraught mothers is a part of that cruelty," a PETA spokeswoman said.
"Anyone involved in an industry which exploits animals for profit and gain should assume that they are being monitored and treat animals accordingly."
It comes as farmers have begun publicly warning each other about the likelihood of being recorded handling bobby calves this year.
Nanneella dairy farmer Peter Gibson warned fellow farmers at the United Dairyfarmers' of Victoria conference last week to expect high scrutiny.
"Be not alarmed but very aware that there is the chance of cameras watching you as you unload your bobby calves," Mr Gibson said.
"I think we need to be really ahead of the game here.
"They (activist groups) will be watching how we handle them."
Mr Gibson said it was important to unload calves from trailers and utes by personally lifting them from the trailer on to the ground, or by handing them to a person on the ground.
"They will film into the eyes of those calves as they're being loaded off the trailer ... and it makes for very emotive footage," he said. "You don't know when and you don't know where but they may be watching.
"Don't give them an excuse to try to shut us down because they'd love to."
Animals Australia called for bobby calves to be taken directly to abattoirs to avoid unloading them at saleyards.
"The age, fragility and low economic worth of bobby calves unfortunately leaves them vulnerable to cruelty," a spokeswoman said.
"Direct consignment to an abattoir - rather than putting calves through the stresses of loading, unloading then waiting at the saleyards - would be a vast improvement."
Animals Australia has previously embarked on advertising campaigns in major metropolitan newspapers to raise awareness of the welfare of bobby calves.