Delays to winter grazing regulations put calves and their mothers at risk – SAFE


The Government is delaying the introduction of new winter grazing regulations after bowing to pressure from agriculture lobbyists. The regulations were meant to come into effect from May 2021, but the Government has deferred new regulations to 2022, allowing the sector to self-regulate in the interim.

SAFE CEO Debra Ashton said she’s concerned for the welfare of animals, especially vulnerable mother cows and their calves.

“What steps will the Government take to ensure the welfare of these animals in the interim?” said Ashton. “Will we still be seeing more horrific images of cows standing and giving birth in mud, just as we did last year?”

When cows are kept in wet and muddy conditions, welfare issues that may result include poor hoof health and lameness, an inability to properly rest and ruminate, and increased risk of mastitis. Calves born in muddy conditions are also at risk, as their small bodies make them vulnerable to suffering in the cold and wet conditions.

Last year footage emerged of cows and their calves standing in a mud-filled paddock. The footage was taken in Southland between 31 July and 8 August 2020.

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“Winter grazing has been linked to terrible examples of suffering for animals and our land. Cows and their calves need the Government to act for them now, not in 2022.”


  1. I recently attended a Forest and Bird Protection workshop with drone survelliance photographs which showed cattle up to their knees in mud on winter pastures.
    Having some experience of stock rearing my first thought was: Is the stock owner intent of throwing money away by making cattle sick?
    Callous as people may find me I state the primary purpose for farmers keeping animals in good health is to make money.
    Therefore keeping animals in unhealthy conditions is not only cruel it is uneconomic. I can only account for this by supposing that industrialised farming has led to management by people who do not know, or care, about the job they do.
    About five years ago David Parker and Eugenie Sage were at a public meeting where they showed Photographs of a bobby calf rasing unit discharging effluent into the TukiTuki River in Hawkes Bay( amongst other scenes) and they waxed exceedingly eloquent about the concern they felt.
    I asked Mr Parker which farms and businesses he would close and how he would limit stock numbers.
    He said( near as I can recall), ” I am not going to force people to do things. We will make changes that will encourage them.’ Eugene Sage agreed. They made it clear that their idea of government is not about using compulsion.
    This latest development shows David Parker is true to his word. As concerned as he professes to be about water quality he is not going to use his power as a minister to do anything about it.
    I suppose you could call that integrity.

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