Winter is a critical period to ensure good condition of cows and sheep. We are working with farmers to support good practice.
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 2022 the Government announced the final Intensive Winter Grazing regulations, after some changes to the original regulations from feedback received.
The regulations come into effect from November 2022, therefore apply to the grazing of winter crops in 2023.
Your intensive winter grazing must meet (or plan to meet once your intensive winter grazing activity starts) all the following requirements from 1 November 2022.
Land area used for intensive winter grazing must meet both of the following conditions:
If you can’t meet either of these requirements, you will require resource consent.
Distance from waterways
Critical source areas
Any expansion of winter grazing beyond what was done in hectares over the reference period (2014-2019) requires consent.
We are working closely with farmers to encourage best practices in winter grazing, ahead of the new regulations coming into effect next year.
Landowners who do not meet the permitted activity standards detailed above, or who want to expand their winter grazing area beyond what was grazed between 2014-2019, are 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.
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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