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Source: SAFE For Animals

Images and video provided to SAFE show winter grazing conditions on many farms haven’t improved in parts of Southland and Otago.
The content shows sheep caked in mud, a mother cow licking her calf lying in the mud, another calf who lies motionless in the mud, cows struggling to walk in mud up to their knees, with no dry land or shelter.
SAFE CEO Debra Ashton said it’s clear that animals are still suffering on muddy paddocks, and the Ministry for Primary Industries needs to improve its monitoring.
“This is mud farming, and every winter it’s the same story,” said Ashton.
“Simply put, winter grazing practices haven’t improved on a lot of farms and MPI are not doing enough to protect animals from suffering.”
New winter grazing regulations were meant to come into effect in May 2021, but earlier this year the Government deferred new regulations to 2022, allowing the sector to self-regulate in the interim.
When cows are kept in wet and muddy conditions, welfare issues that may result include poor hoof health and lameness, an inability to properly rest and ruminate, and increased risk of mastitis. Calves born in muddy conditions are also at risk, as their small bodies make them vulnerable to suffering in the cold and wet conditions
“Winter grazing is one of several areas where the Government has been slow to take action.”
“Our Government talks about its aspirations to have the best animal welfare standards in the world. It’s time to walk the talk by appointing a fully resourced Commissioner for Animals with the power and will to regulate and enforce animal welfare laws.”
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
We’re creating a future that ensures the rights of animals are respected. Our core work empowers society to make kinder choices for ourselves, animals and our planet.
[The photos and footage contain disturbing content.]
– SAFE wants a ban on intensive winter grazing, a practice where animals are confined to a small section of land that can be grazed down to bare mud, and where pregnant animals are forced to give birth without access to dry areas or shelter.
 The Winter Grazing Taskforce report says animals should always be able to lie comfortably (on a soft dry substrate) for as long as they want to.
– The New Zealand Veterinary Association’s (NZVA) statement on winter grazing says that the practice should only be undertaken when the welfare of the animals can be protected. This means meeting the requirements of section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and other relevant legislation. Section 4 includes the requirement that ‘proper shelter’ be provided.