News Blog Articles Cows and calves suffering again this winter
Cows and calves suffering again this winter

Cows and calves suffering again this winter

July 28th, 2019

Imagine being forced to give birth in a barren, muddy paddock, with no shelter from harsh winter weather, standing in inescapable knee-deep mud.  

Every winter in New Zealand this is the sad reality for some cows used for dairy farming. To manage winter feed needs for large numbers of cows, they are grazed on small areas of feed crops. The cows are left there until the paddocks become churned into kneedeep mud, often without even the most basic shelter.  

Cows kept in these conditions have been shown to spend less time lying down and resting, and are at increased risk of painful health problems like mastitis and lameness. Even more upsetting is that cows often have to give birth in these conditions. For some calves, this exposed barren landscape is their first experience of the world.  

Muddy paddocks are also devastating for our environment. With no vegetation to act as a filter, rain runs directly into waterways, taking soil and excess nutrients (including nitrogen) with it. Cattle faeces and urine also wash directly into waterways, further contributing to water pollution.  

These problems are quite simply due to having too many cows in a region that cannot provide for their needs. Intensive grazing of crops by cattle in winter will always result in terrible welfare compromises and is totally unnecessary.  

New Zealand desperately needs to reduce the number of cows because they play a huge role in our contribution to climate change, they damage our waterways, and when kept in such appalling conditions, they suffer.  

This has got to stop! 

New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act requires that all animals must have shelter from adverse weather conditions. These farmers are clearly breaching the Act but are not being held to account. The Ministry for Primary industries (MPI) also needs to be following up all complaints they receive about cows in mud within 48 hours of those reports being received. 

By holding farmers to account, we can increase pressure on them to reduce the number of cows 

Take Action 

Sign the petition to Finance Minister Grant Robertson asking for an end to the NZ Superannuation Fund putting money into dairy farms that use winter crop strip grazing, that puts animal welfare and our fragile environment at risk.

Email Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor. Let him know you want stricter penalties for farmers who keep cows in muddy paddocks without adequate shelter and want MPI to follow up all complaints about cows in mud within 48 hours. 


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