DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand generally agree with most the recommendations made in the Winter Grazing Taskforce report and are committed to continuing to improve wintering practices across sectors, working together to establish new initiatives for change.
“It is important that the taskforce’s recommendations are practical and workable for farmers. Animals are at the heart of all farming systems and our farmers work hard to balance animals, environment and business performance within a biological and outdoor system where guarantees and absolutes are difficult,” said Will Halliday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s senior advisor biosecurity and animal welfare.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Government to improve the recommendations into a form that will achieve the environmental and animal welfare outcomes we all want, as well managed winter grazing on crops can be environmentally responsible and improve animal health and wellbeing over the colder months.”
DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand would welcome being part of the pan-sector group recommended by the report and also recommend the inclusion of farmer representatives who operate winter grazing systems, to add value from a knowledge perspective and support implementation for farmers.
DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand appreciate the taskforce’s role in helping understand the concerns about wintering animals on crop, as the sector has worked on initiatives to mitigate the environmental impacts of winter grazing. However the organisations do feel that farmers with good wintering practices have not been adequately acknowledged in the report.
“Wintering animals on crops is an important management tool for farmers in some regions and, done well, good outcomes for both animals and the environment are achieved,” said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr Jenny Jago.
“We feel it is important to recognise the areas where good work is already underway and then focus efforts on additional support to lift outcomes where needed. Many farmers have good animal welfare practices and may feel disheartened to see this report does not reflect their good work.
“It’s important any changes are practical for farmers and we look forward to working with the government and other organisations to ensure the right changes are put in place to achieve the results we all want to see.”
DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers have engaged with the taskforce about opportunities for the report’s objectives to be more practical for our outdoor pasture systems.
“Some of the recommendations made under the premise of ‘always’ and ‘never’ to take place is unrealistic in our pasture-based system,” said Dr Jago.
“The report states farmers should always provide animals with a soft dry surface to lie on – which in an outdoor system subject to weather conditions, is simply not achievable even with the very best management. A ‘never’ standard would apply if there was a little bit of rain or a lot of rain, which makes it impractical.
“Many farmers follow good management practice which is particularly important in very wet weather or snow events where a ‘plan B’ ensures farmers keep stock off the crop for periods of inclement weather.”
Initiatives into research and on-farm management of winter crops have already taken place ahead of the recent planting season and will continue through 2020.
More information on winter grazing can found at:
Ph 027 836 6295
Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Ph 027 838 6353