What is intensive winter grazing?
Intensive winter grazing is a farming practice where livestock are grazed on paddocks planted with forage crops.
When done poorly, it can have serious negative effects on animal welfare and the environment.
Grazing regulations updated
Intensive winter grazing regulations were introduced in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-F) as part of the Essential Freshwater reforms.
They were amended in April 2022 to make them more practical for farmers and effective in lifting environmental outcomes.
The updated regulations came into effect from 1 November 2022, giving farmers time to plan for the 2023 winter grazing period.
What are the changes?
The amendments will help protect the soil and waterways by placing greater importance on paddock selection.
The key changes are around:
- resowing annual forage crop paddocks
- protecting and not cultivating or grazing critical source areas
- using land with a slope of more than 10 degrees.
Find out more about the amended regulations – Ministry for the Environment
Changes to intensive winter grazing rules better for farmers and environment – Government media release
Intensive winter grazing module
A module is available to help achieve improvements to intensive winter grazing practices.
It highlights practical solutions to mitigate the effects of grazing livestock on forage crops between 1 May and 30 September.
Importantly, it outlines farmers’ requirements under the regulations.
The updated 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.
Intensive Winter Grazing Module [PDF, 4.4 MB]
Intensive Winter Grazing Module – Template [PDF, 5.5 MB]
The Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment are developing further guidance, which will be available in early 2023. It will include:
- an updated fact sheet on intensive winter grazing
- guidance on changes to the intensive winter grazing regulations
- technical guidance to support implementation of the intensive winter grazing regulations.
Extra resources on winter grazing
Wintering cows on crops – DairyNZ
Forage Crop Grazing – Beef + Lamb NZ
Animal management: Winter grazing and mud
Who to contact
If you have questions about intensive winter grazing, email firstname.lastname@example.org