Farmers strongly encouraged to follow best practice for winter grazing

Andrew Morrison
Andrew Morrison.

New Zealand’s farming sector is focused on improving winter grazing and eliminating practices which impact on the environment and animal welfare.

“Poor winter grazing practices are unacceptable as they are destructive to soils and waterways, and can lead to poor animal welfare outcomes,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s chairman Andrew Morrison.

“While winter on farm will always involve some mud in paddocks due to heavier rainfall, lower temperatures and shorter sunlight hours, ensuring mud is minimised as much as is practical will help keep animals healthy and maximise feed utilisation over the colder months.”

Done correctly, winter grazing is an effective way to keep animals fed and healthy over winter in a pastoral-based farming system when grass growth is low or non-existent.

“There are simple strategies that can be done during winter to help retain nutrients and soil within paddocks and ensure animals achieve enough lying time,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

“These include fencing off wet areas in the paddock, grazing from the top of a slope so downhill crop can act as a filter, and having a plan for managing animals when wet weather hits – for example an area to stand-off stock or a larger grazing area.”

While some changes need to be implemented a season ahead, such as paddock and crop selection, others can be used now to minimise pugging and the associated soil disturbance from it.

“Across the sector, we’ve been working together and with central and regional government to review and improve the resources available, and update our approach to help farmers improve their winter grazing practices,” says Dr Mackle.

Farmers share the public’s concern around poor winter grazing practices, knowing that it just takes one photo of bad winter grazing practices to undermine the good work by everyone else.

“There’s an onus on farmers everywhere to not only make sure that if they’re using winter grazing on their farm that they’re doing it well, but also if they see poor practices happening to call it out and make sure we all lift our game,” says Federated Farmers’ board member Chris Lewis.

Farmers looking for more information on winter grazing can find it at:

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