Commitment to improving winter grazing practice remains strong
Environment Southland remains committed to getting improvements in winter grazing practice across Southland.
Chief executive Rob Phillips said the Council takes the issues related to intensive winter grazing seriously and is working hard with others to support farmers to achieve good wintering practice and takes compliance action, where necessary. Unfortunately, the recent publicity about poor winter grazing practice cuts across that work.
“We want to follow up and address any poor practice, but when those circulating the images aren’t prepared to tell us where the properties are, it lets everyone down and certainly doesn’t help to improve the situation. Some of the images being shared are not from this winter and many don’t appear to be in Southland.”
The Council relies on its inspections and reports from the public to identify properties where poor winter grazing practice may be occurring.
The first winter grazing aerial inspection for the season was undertaken last week and a good level of compliance was observed across the areas covered. However, intensive winter grazing is a high risk activity when it comes to the environment, and Environment Southland recognises there are still properties where significant improvement is required.
So far this season Environment Southland has investigated a total of 18 incidents/properties related to intensive winter grazing: 14 reviewed and confirmed as no breaches; 1 confirmed; 3 still being investigated. Following last week’s aerial inspection a further 3 will be investigated.
During the past year Environment Southland has undertaken a great deal of work alongside industry agencies, including Federated Farmers, to support farmers to lift their winter grazing performance. The Council is also working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries, meeting weekly and undertaking joint compliance visits in response to complaints about winter grazing practice.
“This council a big believer in working with others to get the best outcomes for Southland. By pulling together we achieve so much more.”
The next aerial inspection for winter grazing is scheduled for the end of July and an animal welfare inspector from MPI is expected to be part of the compliance team on that flight.
Winter grazing - winter grazing (including wintering on crops) is used to ensure animals have access to feed at a time of the year when pasture growth is limited. Winter grazing typically involves livestock (e.g. cattle, sheep and deer) being ‘strip fed’ forage (such as pasture or crop). Animals are given access to a measured area of forage and shifted in a controlled manner. When animals finish grazing one section of forage, the farmer opens up another section (‘strip’). Animals may also be given supplementary feed (such as silage or straw) in addition to their forage.
Winter grazing can occur on both dairy and dry stock properties.