Winter grazing action group announced

The members of a new group tasked with improving animal welfare in farm winter grazing systems have been announced by the Agriculture Minister.

The issue has been under the spotlight after photos of mud-bound cows in Southland and Otago were released by environmentalist Angus Robson last year.

Damien O'Connor ordered the establishment of a winter grazing taskforce, calling the images unacceptable.

The taskforce made up of 15 representatives from industry organisations, government, vets, farmers, and other rural professionals, produced a report with 11 key recommendations.

O'Connor said the new group would continue with work done so far.

 "The new winter grazing action group met for the first time last week and is eager to progress the work begun by the taskforce. I will continue to take a strong interest in the progress and they will continue to report to me as that work takes shape," said O'Connor.

 "I know there's a lot of concern about managing winter grazing for cattle, sheep, and deer. This is an issue across the country.

Damien O'Connor said images of mud-bound cows were unacceptable.
Damien O'Connor said images of mud-bound cows were unacceptable. Photo credit: Newshub

 "Farmers around New Zealand, whatever their particular winter grazing system, need to meet animal welfare and environmental outcomes. I encourage them to reach out to their levy organisations if they need any support or additional information ahead of winter."

Action Group chair Lindsay Burton said the group was engaged and ready to get to work.

"We don't have all the answers but we have a work programme, a high level of expertise across the sector and a drive to succeed. The work that the taskforce has done to date has set us up very well to move forward and should be applauded," he said.

 The action group members are:

 ·        Lindsay Burton, Independent Chair

·        Ash Keown, Veterinary Manager (Large Animal), NZ Veterinary Association

·        Caroline Murray, Technical Advisor, Dairy Companies Association NZ

·        Helen Thoday, Animal Care Manager, Dairy NZ

·        Tony Pearse, Production Manager, Deer Industry NZ

·        Julie Geange, Policy Adviser, Federated Farmers

·        Milton Munro, Technical Team Manager, PGG Wrightson

·        Miranda Hunter, Consultant, Roslin Consultancy

·        Peter Young, Consultant, Farm Advisory Services

·        Pania King, Sheep & Beef Farmer and Taskforce member

·        Tim Driscoll, Dairy Farmer, Southern Dairy Development Trust

·        Will Halliday, Senior Adviser Animal Welfare & Biosecurity, ­Beef+Lamb NZ­

·        Leonie Ward, Manager Animal Welfare Sector Liaison, MPI

·        Penny Timmer-Arends, Adviser Animal Welfare Sector Liaison, MPI

·        Gray Harrison, Manager Animal Welfare & NAIT Compliance, MPI