Tuesday, 04 June 2019 11:50

Caring for livestock in wild winter weather

Written by 

With winter setting in, farmers are being reminded to keep an eye on animal welfare.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wants pastoral livestock farmers to be aware of their animal welfare responsibilities, whether animals are kept at home or sent off-farm to graze. 

“This time of year can be challenging for farmers, with wet and muddy conditions increasing risks to the welfare of their livestock,” says Kate Littin, manager animal welfare.

“Many farmers, particularly in Southland and Otago, choose to break feed stock on crop over the winter months. It’s a great way to provide food for animals and protect pastures, but does require careful planning and good stockmanship to avoid welfare risks that wet weather can bring.”

New Zealand’s codes of animal welfare require livestock to have access to areas free of surface water and mud, and appropriate shelter from adverse weather.

Animals will refuse to lie down on wet ground and can then become stressed, stop eating and are more susceptible to lameness, Littin says.

There are a number of ways farmers can mitigate risks to animal welfare over winter. 

“If there is a spell of extreme weather or prolonged wet conditions, you may need to move your stock off the crop to drier land, and you should plan for this possibility – having a ‘plan B’ is the key.

“Clean drinking water must be available for animals at all times. Owners are still responsible for the welfare of their stock while they are off-farm for winter grazing and should check on the conditions, including their access to shelter and water.

“When transitioning from pasture to crop and back again, stock can be negatively affected. Ensuring you follow a gradual transition plan when moving your animals will prevent issues.”

MPI recommends talking to your vet for help with planning and any animal health concerns. Resources to help farmers with their winter grazing management are available online from DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand

More like this

Drought impact to continue

There is not going to be any significant feed grown in Hawkes Bay until spring, according to former special agriculture trade envoy Mike Petersen.

Southland waits and hopes

Southland is on the knife edge as farmers struggle to grow enough feed to get their stock through winter.

Featured

 

Being a good boss during calving

Despite it being a busy time, being a good boss during calving is absolutely achievable, says DairyNZ’s People Team leader Jane Muir.

SFOTY in hot water over social media posts

Organisers of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards are investigating unsavoury social media comments allegedly made by the newly crowned 2020 Share Farmer of the Year, Nick Bertram.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Fat chance

OPINION: This old mutt has always believed that any hopes of a possible free trade deal – that is any…

Health & safety?

OPINION: WorkSafe and workplace safety legislation dominate the daily operations of the private sector, including farms.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Popular Reads

Honda to quit ATVs in Aus

Honda Australia has signalled it will stop selling quads/ATVs in that country as the discussion about the effectiveness of Crush…