Winter grazing advice
Good winter grazing practices can be straightforward and the time to start is now.
Carefully planning how you winter graze your stock to reduce impacts on waterways is an important practice to help ensure we all keep moving in the right direction.
Environment Southland is focused on working with the rural community to understand and support good winter grazing management practices - because intensive winter grazing practices have a significant impact on Southland’s water quality.
We appreciate the attention landowners have given to improving their winter grazing practices. If we’re proactive in using good management practices we will see better environmental outcomes for our communities.
Our land sustainability team look each year at paddocks where critical source areas have been cultivated for winter crops.
We are interested in the environmental impacts of winter grazing, particularly the loss of nitrate to groundwater via leaching, and the loss of phosphorus, sediment and bacteria to surface water via overland flow.
Feeding stock on a winter crop or grass behind an electric fence results in bare, often pugged soil, with concentrated amounts of effluent on the soil surface. Rainfall and the resulting overland flow can transport sediment and effluent into drains and waterways. This results in the loss of valuable topsoil which can silt up drains and affect tile outfalls, as well as increasing the number of bugs and pathogens in waterways.
We are happy to work directly with farmers, at no additional cost, to create a winter grazing plan and to give advice on improving and grazing those paddocks, addressing areas of risk.
Set up a wintering plan - Check out this page for info on the things to consider when making a plan for your winter grazing
Animal welfare - Looking after animals is a key part of the winter grazing programme. Check out this link for more information and support.
Winter Grazing Taskforce - In August 2019, Minister for Primary Industries Damien O'Connor announced he was establishing a taskforce to respond to the animal welfare issues associated with the practice of winter grazing.
Practical advice - There’s a couple of links (including videos) from Beef + Lamb NZ that include practical information designed to help you with winter grazing.
Factsheets and useful pages
Factsheet - Intensive winter grazing
Factsheet - Managing critical source areas
Factsheet - Cultivation
Factsheet - Farm Environment Management Plans
Page - Farm Environment Management Plans and advice
Page - Catch cropping
What rules do I follow?
Nationally and regionally New Zealand is grappling with how to achieve better environmental outcomes and the need to do some things differently.
While the Government has deferred the introduction of the new intensive winter grazing regulations for a year until May 2022, rules preventing the expansion of intensive winter grazing will still apply.
If we continue to apply the existing rules as we get ready for next winter, then we are heading in the right direction.
If you’re not sure about the current rules or consent requirements for winter grazing, please have a look at the factsheets or give our consents team a call on 0800 76 88 45.