Friday, 21 June 2024 11:27

MPI probes Southland farm over poor grazing practices

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Federated Farmers Southland president Jason Herrick. Federated Farmers Southland president Jason Herrick.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating a Southland farm over poor grazing practices after some dairy cows were found stuck in mud.

Following a complaint, MPI animal welfare officers recently visited the farm in Riverton, near Invercargill, and found some 2,000 cattle on a property with substantial mud and insufficient water being supplied to the cattle, says MPI director of compliance and response, Glen Burrell.

 "The welfare of the animals is always our number one priority. Unfortunately, in this instance, 5 dairy heifers had to be euthanised by animal welfare Inspectors on advice from private veterinarians. Two other heifers were euthanised by the farm manager,” he said in a MPI media release.

The investigation of the Riverton farm is ongoing and MPI will consider further action in due course, Burrell adds.

However, Federated Farmers Southland president Jason Herrick says that it’s “really disappointing” that a media release has gone out on an open investigation without involving strategic partners.

“We do not condone poor animal welfare practices and that is why we have organisation's like MPI,” Herrick told Rural News.

“I personally feel because this is an open investigation, media should be careful to not make a mountain out of a molehill before all details are obtained and confirmed. We all need to trust in the process and learn from the findings.”

Herrick says that if anyone has any concerns, they can call the 0800 FARMING hotline.

“Let's us know about it, so we can help support any potential issues.”

MPI says the farmer was directed under the Animal Welfare Act to relocate cattle and was provided further direction on how to reduce the impact of mud on cattle. A close veterinarian assessment of all cattle is being carried out.

"We’d remind all farmers that a well-planned winter grazing system supports good animal health and welfare. It ensures animals have sufficient and appropriate feed, access to plenty of clean water, and the ability to move freely to and from their feed and water,” says Burrell.

 "While most farmers work hard to do the right thing and have improved their winter grazing practices over recent years, this is an important reminder to plan ahead.”

 MPI animal welfare Inspectors work closely with Environment Southland on monitoring winter grazing – this includes joining aerial surveillance flights of farmland throughout the region.

 "Where we find evidence that an animal is suffering or is likely to suffer, we will take action. The welfare of the animal will always be our priority, so we look for practical measures to correct the issue,” says Burrell.

"At the low end of the scale it could be the issuing of a directive to move stock or provide access to stand off areas away from the feeding area. For more serious issues we might bring in vets to make an independent assessment, require the farmer to bring in extra feed, and in the most serious cases taking a prosecution," he says.

 Animal welfare is everyone’s responsibility and MPI strongly encourages any member of the public who is aware of animal ill-treatment or cruelty to report it to the MPI animal welfare complaints freephone 0800 00 83 33.

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