Feedlots and stockholding areas


2 min read

Area rules Timeframe rules Feedlots Stockholding other areas

Feedlots and stockholding areas, like feed pads and winter pads, have specific regulations. These rules concern the age or weight of the cattle, the permeability of the base, how effluent is managed, and distance from water bodies. A feedlot keeps cattle for 80 days over six months, fed by hand or machine. You can use feedlots for young cattle, but older or heavier cattle need a resource consent. Stockholding areas, different from feedlots, are spaces holding cattle where ground vegetation isn't maintained. Ensure these areas meet set standards; if not, you'll need a resource consent or freshwater farm plan. If uncertain about definitions, contact your regional council.

The regulations set rules which apply to feedlots and other stockholding areas such as feed pads, stand-off pads, winter pads and loafing pads.

Feedlots and stockholding areas rules cover:

  • Age/weight of stock
  • Permeability of base
  • Effluent management
  • Distance from water bodies

Timeframes – when do these rules apply?

03 September 2020 – for any new feedlot activity

02 March 2021 – resource consent applications required for feedlots subject to existing use rights

01 July 2021 – for new stock holding areas (permitted activity standards met or resource consent required)

01 January 2022 – resource consent applications where permitted activity standards are not met for stock holding areas that are subject to existing use rights


A feedlot is a stockholding area where cattle are kept for at least 80 days in any six-month period and fed exclusively by hand or machine.

Permitted activities

The use of feedlots is permitted for young stock where at least 90% of the cattle held are no more than 4 months old or weigh no more than 120kg.

Resource consents

The use of feedlots for all other cattle requires a resource consent.

Stockholding areas other than feedlots

Note these regulations do not apply to sacrifice paddocks.  A sacrifice paddock is defined in the regulations as an area where cattle are repeatedly but temporarily contained (typically during periods of extended wet weather) and the resulting damage to soil by pugging is so severe resowing with pasture species is required.

Stockholding areas are areas for holding cattle at a density that means pasture or other vegetative ground cover cannot be maintained, such as feed pads, wintering pads, standoff pads or loafing pads. Stockholding areas do not include stockyards, milking sheds, calf sheds and wintering barns.

Contact your regional council if you are unsure which definition applies to your situation

Permitted activities

The use of stockholding area is permitted where:

  • 90% or more of the cattle held in the stockholding area are no more than 4 months old or weigh no more than 120kg

OR (for older/heavier cattle)

  • the base area is sealed to a minimum permeability standard of 10-9 m/s (likely synthetic liner or concrete); and
  • effluent is collected, stored and disposed of in accordance with regional or district plans or a resource consent (from your regional council); and
  • the stockholding area is at least 50 m away from any water body, water bore, drain or the coastal marine area.

Resource consents

If your stockholding area does not meet the standards above a certified fresh water farm plan or a resource consent will be required.

At this stage the Government has not determined the requirements around certified freshwater farm plans and until this is determined the freshwater farm plan pathway is not available.

Last updated: Aug 2023

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