23 Aug 2018

NZ's largest feedlot: 'We take great care of our animals'

From Checkpoint, 5:14 pm on 23 August 2018

The company that owns a large cattle feedlot in Canterbury is rejecting criticism of the model of intensive farming.

Five Star Beef farms about 14,000 cattle at a property near Ashburton, where they are grain fed, rather than grass fed.

Groups including Fish and Game, and the Animal Rights group SAFE, want large feed lots banned, saying there are animal welfare and environmental concerns.

Five Star Beef is owned by ANZCO.

Its group chief executive, Peter Conley, said the farming model was used in other countries, but he understood it was unusual in New Zealand.

However, he insisted the company cared for the cattle.

"We have a system which provides total care for our animals. They have access to fresh water and food 24 hours a day. Every animal is checked on a daily basis.

"We take great care of our animals."

He said the animals were not given growth hormones or antibiotics.

Mr Conley said the Five Star Beef feedlot, operating for 27 years, provided a niche product which only made up 2 percent of beef production.

"When it was designed and built the company did a lot of research on what was global best practise."

He acknowledged the lack of shade for the cattle but said they were an outdoor animal and were suited to the environment they were in. 

He said many of the farmers who supplied them had been working with them for 27 years. 

Mr Conley said the effluent was all contained within the feedlot and operated to resource consents. 

"We care for the environment - we operate within the requirements of what we're allowed to do," he said.

The farm has been give a 'notice of direction' by the Ministry for Primary Industries that 44 of its 14,000 cattle could have the disease.

Mr Conley said the 44 cattle are in an isolated section of the feedlot.