15 Jul 2021

Images of distressed animals misleading, council says

6:57 pm on 15 July 2021

Recent publicity surrounding intensive winter grazing in Southland has been unhelpful, the regional council says.

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File photo. Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Images of distressed animals deep in mud have circulated on social media in recent weeks.

But Southland Regional Council chief executive Rob Phillips said some of them were not from this winter and many appeared to be taken outside of Southland.

"We want to follow up and address any poor practice, but when those circulating the images aren't prepared to tell us where the properties are, it lets everyone down and certainly doesn't help to improve the situation, he said.

"Some of the images being shared are not from this winter and many don't appear to be in Southland."

The council took problems related to winter grazing seriously and was working to support farmers in achieving good practice or taking compliance action where necessary, he said.

The council relied on inspections and reports from the public to identify properties where poor practices might be happening.

The first of its planned aerial inspections was carried out last week and found a good level of compliance with only three properties identified as requiring further investigation.

So far this season, the council investigated 18 incidents related to intensive winter grazing with only one confirmed breach and three still under investigation.

During the past year, Environment Southland had undertaken a great deal of work alongside industry agencies, including Federated Farmers, to support farmers to lift their winter grazing performance, Phillips said.

The council was also working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

"This council is a big believer in working with others to get the best outcomes for Southland. By pulling together we achieve so much more," he said.

Another aerial inspection was scheduled for the end of the month and an animal welfare inspector from MPI was expected to be part of the compliance team on that flight.

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