Winter is a critical period to ensure good condition of cows and sheep. We are working with farmers to support good practice.
There are currently amendments being proposed to some of the Essential Freshwater regulations for intensive winter grazing.
If accepted, the updated regulations would take effect from the proposed date of 1 November 2022.
For more information read the Ministry for the Environment's intensive winter grazing discussion document
Under the National Environmental Standards Freshwater (NES-F), intensive winter grazing is grazing livestock (including sheep) on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends on 30 September of the same year.
An annual forage crop is a crop, other than pasture, that is grazed in the place where it is grown. Annual ryegrass is a pasture, so isn’t considered an annual forage crop.
The Government’s September 2020 Essential Freshwater Regulations include new rules about winter grazing of animals (including sheep).
In April 2021 they announced a deferral of the requirement for consent part of the Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) regulations for a year until May 2022.
This will allow for improvements in IWG practice relating to freshwater to be achieved primarily through freshwater farm plans.
Any expansion of winter grazing beyond what was done in hectares over the reference period (2014-2019) does still require consent, and this part of the regulations has not been deferred.
We are working closely with farmers to encourage best practices in winter grazing, ahead of the new regulations coming into effect next year.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), councils and industry representatives, have developed an online tool to help improve practices to benefit freshwater quality and animal welfare.
This includes an easy-to-use template for farmers who don’t already have a written plan for their winter grazing. Farmers who have existing plans, need to update them to reflect expectations set out in the module.
Landowners who want to expand their winter grazing area beyond what was grazed between 2014-2019 will still be required to apply for a discretionary activity consent with strict conditions.
Anyone who is unsure if they need a consent is encouraged to get in touch with our Consents Team. We can also email or post you the resource consent application form.
You will be able to graze stock on forage crops in winter without needing a resource consent if:
Please note these requirements may change as a result of proposed amendments to the regulation. The requirements above have been updated to the proposed changes consulted on in 2021.
On 27 April the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment released the 2021/22 Intensive Winter Grazing Module.
The new module includes an easy-to-use template for farmers who don’t already have a written plan for their winter grazing.
It provides solutions farmers can take to mitigate the effects of grazing livestock on fodder crops during the winter months.
The four key steps that you as a farmer can take: plan, do, check, reflect and review.
Plan – you need to have a winter management plan now
Do – during the winter, if things are not going to plan, change your plan
Check – check your plan as the season progresses, and ask for help if you need
Reflect and Review – It’s important to look back on what went well and what didn’t
If you are worried about winter grazing practices you can call:
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