Winter grazing and mud

Animals need careful management in winter. Find out about risks, requirements, and solutions, and about the Winter Grazing Action Group.

What animals need

New Zealand's codes of animal welfare generally require that:

  • livestock have access to areas that are free of surface water and mud
  • animals have protection from adverse weather (like storms)
  • livestock are able to lie down and rest comfortably for sufficient periods to meet their behavioural needs.

Managing crop feeding

The two main risks with winter cropping are that:

  • animals can get sick from changing their diet from pasture to crops too quickly
  • paddocks can quickly get muddy during long wet periods.

These problems can quickly become welfare concerns.

Lying down time

Livestock animals need to lie down for rest and digestion. They won’t lie on very wet ground, which can lead to poor health and poor welfare. 

What you can do to avoid mud problems

Mud happens. But it can be managed. Some resources to help you are available online.

Wintering cows on crops – DairyNZ

Winter grazing – Beef + Lamb NZ

What we're doing

Refer to our programme – Safeguarding our Animals, Safeguarding our Reputation

Winter Grazing Action Group

The Winter Grazing Action Group, established in early 2020, is made up of 15 representatives from industry organisations, government, vets, farmers, and other rural professionals. It's tasked with implementing recommendations to improve animal welfare in winter grazing systems.

The establishment of the group follows the final report by the Winter Grazing Taskforce

Terms of reference

You can find out more about the action group and its role in the Terms of reference.

Terms of Reference [PDF, 565 KB]

Meeting reports and a media release

Meeting summary and actions – 16 June 2020 [PDF, 572 KB]

Meeting summary and actions – 2 June 2020 [PDF, 578 KB]

Meeting summary and actions – 19 May 2020 [PDF, 606 KB]

Meeting summary and actions – 5 May 2020 [PDF, 698 KB]

Meeting summary and actions – 21 April 2019 [PDF, 606 KB]

Meeting summary and actions – 24 February 2020 [PDF, 589 KB]

Winter Grazing Action Group announced – Government media release

Who to contact

If you have questions about winter grazing, email

Information about the Winter Grazing Taskforce

Last reviewed: