Campaigners release shocking video of dead animals in bid to stop intensive winter grazing

Campaigners have released shocking footage of dead animals in a bid to stop intensive winter grazing. 

The footage, filmed by campaigners, shows dead animals in a paddock that's been grazed down to mud.

It's filmed by Environmental and Animal Welfare Advocate, Geoff Reid.

"It's harmful to our country, harmful to our image and harmful to our farmers, as well as our animals and environment."

In the Southland where it's particularly hard to grow grass in winter, farmers will often control how much stock is eating by using temporary fencing on crop paddocks.

But with intensive winter grazing, too many animals are spending too long in one place and that's raising concerns. 

Environmental and Animal Welfare Advocate Angus Robson gave a Landcorp board meeting an ultimatum this week.

"The message is simple, we don't need to do this, we can change. Landcorp is the biggest farmer in the South Island, and they've got the biggest problems."

He wants the government-owned farmer Landcorp to lead by example.

"It's really bad, and really is a terrible look for the country."

Landcorp has agreed to reduce intensive winter grazing by 30 percent in the next three years but chair Warren Parker says it's unrealistic for farmers to stop.

"We're not prepared to fully eliminate intensive winter grazing, because that is part of New Zealand pastoral systems, the ability to control the amount of food animals get."

Landcorp said it's reviewing all of the properties and regions where it uses winter cropping and will look to implement changes in the 2020/21 and 21/22 seasons that will see some farms in some areas reduce to zero winter crop.

Landcorp's former head of environment, Alison Dewes, is also urging them to change - saying she has been trying to encourage the company that it's the right move.

"There's an underlying belief system that if we're not doing intensive winter grazing we're not going to be profitable, well that's not the case."

Intensive winter grazing can leach up to 250 tonnes of nitrogen per hectare, per year, she said.

Ministry for Primary Industries director of compliance Gary Orr, says they will look at the footage to identify and investigate the properties.

"It is disappointing that MPI was not made aware of this footage at the time it was shot as we could have acted earlier. Currently, MPI has several active animal welfare investigations under way in relation to mud."

He said work is being progressed to ensure improvements are made to winter grazing practices, led by the Winter Grazing Action Group.

"The Action Group is tasked with taking forward 11 recommendations made in the final report of the Winter Grazing Taskforce, to help ensure that animal welfare became a key part of all winter grazing decisions in the pastoral supply chain."

Campaigners are warning they'll keep fighting, and filming, for change.