Intensive winter grazing

Find out about intensive winter grazing and planned regulations.

Intensive winter grazing regulations coming in May 2022

In 2021, the farming sector agreed to make immediate improvements to intensive winter grazing practices for the coming season. The Government is helping achieve this.

In return for the farming sector's commitment, the Government deferred for a year the introduction of intensive winter grazing practice regulations in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020.

Read the Government's media release about deferring the regulations – Beehive

The intensive winter grazing regulations will come into effect on 1 May 2022 (instead of 1 May 2021).

Note, the regulations restricting further expansion of intensive winter grazing (the intensification rules) were not delayed. Expansion or new intensive winter grazing still requires a resource consent.

Reasons and benefits of delaying the regulations

The decision to delay applying these regulations took into account feedback from the farming and regional sectors about the challenges associated with meeting and implementing the new requirements for intensive winter grazing in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

The delay provides time for the government to assess whether change is required to the permitted activity conditions within the regulations, including for pugging and re-sowing dates. If any changes to the regulations are proposed, these will be released for public consultation before being finalised.

The delay also allows time for the certified freshwater farm plan regime to begin to be rolled out. Consultation on the regulations for certified Freshwater Farm Plans will be open between 26 July and 12 September 2021.

Find out about the consultations

Intensive winter grazing module developed for 2021

A module is available to help achieve immediate improvements to intensive winter grazing practices in 2021.

It highlights practical solutions farmers can take to mitigate the effects of grazing livestock on fodder crops during the winter months.

The module will be used to inform intensive winter grazing components of existing and new farm plans. It will also enable the components to be tested and incorporated into wider certified Freshwater Farm Plans when they are rolled out from early 2022.

2021/2022 Intensive Winter Grazing Module – Government media release

2021/2022 Intensive Winter Grazing Module [PDF, 1.1 MB]

2021/2022 Intensive Winter Grazing Module – Template [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Improvements in winter grazing expected during 2021–2022

Until the regulations come into force, practice is expected to noticeably improve, including a complete stop to the worst practices that impact on the environment.

Effective monitoring by councils, and action where necessary, is also expected during this period. This will ensure that improvements are being made and provide evidence that fewer contaminants are ending up in waterways.

Room to improve winter grazing practices welcomed – Environment Southland

About the Southland Advisory Group and its report – Environment Southland

What the delay means for farms using intensive winter grazing

The delayed regulations apply only to farms already undertaking intensive winter grazing between July 2014 and June 2019. No new or expanded intensive winter grazing activity can occur without a consent. This rule, one of the ‘intensification rules’ in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, is unchanged.

During the delay period:

  • farmers already using intensive winter grazing can continue without needing a resource consent. However, improvements in practice are expected and councils will be monitoring this. Industry guides are available.
  • a farm plan module for intensive winter grazing (incorporating good management principles) will be made available to provide clear guidance on acceptable practice
  • any existing regional plan provisions will still apply and councils will retain the ability to control this activity.  

Guides to winter grazing

Wintering cows on crops – DairyNZ

Forage Crop Grazing – Beef + Lamb NZ

After the delay period

When the intensive winter grazing regulations are reinstated in May 2022, the requirement to apply for a resource consent (if permitted activity conditions cannot be met) will apply again. Farmers with existing use rights will have 6 months from then to apply for a resource consent.

As the freshwater farm plan system rolls out from 2022, farmers will begin to have the option to undertake winter grazing through a certified plan, as an alternative to needing a resource consent (if they still cannot meet the permitted activity conditions).

Find out more

Towards a certified Freshwater Farm Plan system

Who to contact

If you have questions about intensive winter grazing, email

Last reviewed: