In the past weeks activists have captured pictures, including footage from flying drones out over properties, showing cows standing in deep mud in support of a social media campaign that speaks out against the practice of winter crop grazing.

In response to the campaign the government announced a “Winter Grazing Taskforce” with Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor highlighting “Images of cows up to their knees in mud, unable to lie down and rest and calving in these conditions is unacceptable.”

Winter crop grazing is used in some parts of the country to provide enough feed for stock at a time when there’s not enough pasture.

“Done well, it provides animals with quality feed to keep them warm over winter,” said O’Connor. But “Done badly it means cattle can be knee-deep in mud which gives rise to completely justifiable concerns for their welfare.”

The images in question showed dairy cows in the South Island, but the taskforce is likely to look at farming as a whole and will include vets, industry leaders and officials. The group is expected to meet for the first time in the next few weeks and to bring the first steps of a solution back to the minister by the end of the month.

The general feeling among farmers is that they all need to work a little harder to keep it classy, give livestock a generous ration to prevent them from pacing the paddock and exclude them from areas where water will accumulate and cause deep mud.


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