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Feedlots and Stock Holding areas

Feedlots and stockholding areas pose a high-risk to the quality of our waterways if not managed well.

Under the new Essential Freshwater package, feedlots and other stockholding areas must be an appropriate distance from waterbodies, meet minimum permeability standards and provide for effluent management.

The new regulations apply to farms with five hectares or more of horticulture, 20 hectares or more of pasture or arable crops or 20 hectares or more of a combination of the above.

You’ll need to consider these regulations alongside the feedlot rules 5 and 6 in Regional Resource Management Plan (RRMP).

Updated rules for feedlots came into force on 3 September 2020. The rules for other stockholding areas came into force on 1 July 2021.


A feedlot is defined under the National Environmental Standards (NES) as ‘a stockholding area where cattle: (a) are kept for at least 80 days in any 6-month period; and (b) are fed exclusively by hand or machine’.

If you meet the following conditions in your feedlot, you won’t need a consent to meet the Essential Freshwater rules:

  • 90% of the cattle held in the feedlot are younger than 4 months old OR
  • 90% of the cattle held in the feedlot are 120kg or less.

If you operate a feedlot, you may need a resource consent from Hawke's Bay Regional Council if you don't meet the conditions set out above.

You will need to be able to demonstrate in your resource consent application that you can:

  • Manage the permeability of the base area so that it’s sealed to a minimum permeability standard of 10-9 metres per second; and
  • Collect, store and dispose of effluent in accordance with HBRC rules or a current discharge permit; and
  • Situate the feedlot at least 50m away from waterbodies, water abstraction bores, drainage ditches and coastal marine areas.

The Regional Plan also has a separate feedlot rule with a different definition. See the factsheet link below to see if this applies to your activity.

Feedlot information sheet

Stockholding Areas

A stockholding is defined under the NES as ‘an area for holding cattle at a density that means pasture or other vegetative cover cannot be maintained. These areas include feed pads (including beef feeding areas), winter pads, stand-off pads, loafing pads and silage pits’.

If you have or plan to create a stock-holding area, then similar standards apply from 1 July 2021. If your stockholding area is existing (before the regulations commenced) you required consent by 1 January 2022. Please contact our consent team if you have any questions about whether you need a consent.

Contact a consent advisor
Phone: (06) 833 8090

The table below shows example of what is and isn’t considered a stock holding area.

table for stockholding

More information?


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