Winter Grazing New Zealand

Getting Ready for Next Winter Grazing Season

Updated 22 AUG 2021


 Events Coming Soon to Help with Preparation for Next Season

 Winter Grazing Plans: Use These Templates This Spring to Help Your Planning

 Preparing For Winter Grazing - Advice From Beef + Lamb NZ

 Spring, an Important Part of Successful Wintering: Choosing The Right Paddocks is Key - Advice From DairyNZ

Events coming soon:

14/ 09 All you need to know about Intensive Winter Grazing. DairyNZ IWG Online Meeting. 

Join us for a special online meeting focusing on intensive winter grazing. We will update you on the latest rule updates from central government and local council rules that might apply as well. Rachael Mitchell will be joining us from Perrin Ag Rachael is an independent Certified Nutrient Management Adviser and understands the regions different council rules and soil types.

There will be plenty of time for questions.

15/ 09 Know before you sow - a wintering Q+A session. DairyNZ IWG Online Meeting.

What about winter cropping jargon and what it means e.g. GMP (good management practice), CSA (critical source area) etc? Successful wintering systems require thought and planning - have you got everything covered before you sow next winters crop? 

We want to help answer these and any other burning wintering questions you have! Join DairyNZ at 7pm Wednesday 15 September to hear from DairyNZ’s panel of experts:

  • Dr Dawn Dalley – Senior Scientist
  • Carina Ross – Regional Policy Advisor
  • Justin Kitto – Senior Solutions & Development Specialist, Responsible Dairy

Let's continue to make a difference next winter!  Already have a winter cropping question? Send it through in advance here! Want to know more? Visit our DairyNZ wintering page for great tools and resources:

  • ‘Break-Fed Wintering’ Guide
  • ‘Winter Grazing Plan’
  • Webinars, podcasts and more!

22/ 09 North Island Winter Cropping Seminar. DairyNZ IWG Online Meeting.

Want to put your winter crops in the right place to make your life easier next Winter?  This session will have all of the tips and tricks to make sure your farm meets the new winter rules.  And what are the new winter rules? This session will answer that.

We'll be joined by Justin Kitto who is DairyNZ's project leader for Intensive Winter Grazing.  He will take us through the updated Government regulations as well as optimizing our paddock and crop selection.  NOW is the time we can have a significant impact on our winter crops by choosing the right paddock and planting it in the right way.

Winter Grazing Plans: Use These Templates This Spring To Help Your Planning

Winter Grazing Module Templates

In April, an intensive winter grazing (IWG) module was developed. by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Ministry for the Environment (MfE). The module was developed to help kick start IWG planning and provide a set of IWG practice expectations.

The recommendation is for all famers undertaking IWG this year to have a plan. IWG modules are the core way to undertake IWG planning, and can be accessed from MPI, DairyNZ, or Beef+Lamb NZ. Either of the below plans can be used, as long as they reflect the content of the MPI and MfE module.


MPI and MfE Winter Grazing Module - This module has been developed to help achieve immediate improvements in intensive winter grazing practices and support improved planning.

Beef and Lamb Winter Grazing Templates -  A range of resources that have been tested by farmers. From an editable forage cropping template, to downloadable winter grazing paddock plan template.

DairyNZ Winter Grazing Plan. - This plan is an update for DairyNZ which now reflects MPI's wintering module.

Preparing for Winter Grazing, Beef + Lamb NZ


Careful planning for winter allows you to winter animals in a way that ensures they are well fed and in good health, and also manage the environmental impacts.

When planning for winter, careful thought needs to be given to:

Paddock/Grazing Management

When you’re standing at the gate considering how best to feed your crop, here are some factors to consider:

  •  Feed planning

How many animals will this crop feed and for how long. Consider using the B+LNZ FeedSmart app. This app brings together a raft of variables to give farmers instant information on: the nutritional requirements of different classes of livestock, feed values and feed allocation. This app is especially helpful to estimate the feed requirements for sheep and cattle at any time of the year and to help estimate the allocation of your winter crop. To find out more go to:

  • Exclude stock from waterways and Critical Source Areas (CSAs)

Create an ungrazed (preferably uncropped) buffer zone of crop between the livestock and any waterways. 3-5 metres is a good starting point but this should increase with slope and soil type risk. Identify areas that might channel overland flow (Critical Source Areas or CSAs) of soil nutrients and faecal matter to water, fence these areas off during grazing to reduce the risk of contaminating waterways. CSA’s can be grazed quickly and lightly when soil and weather conditions allow.

  • Trough placement and supplementary feeding

Consider portable troughs that you can move with breaks for stock drinking water to help keep stock away from CSAs and to reduce soil damage. Supplementary feeding (hay and baleage) needs to be placed away from CSAs, waterways and ideally fed in drier parts of the paddock. Supplementary feed should be put into the paddock prior to grazing. This will help limit stock movement and heavy vehicles on wet soils, helping to reduce damage to the crop and soil.

Strategic grazing

  • Fence placement – On a sloping paddock, fence across the slope and start grazing at the top of the paddock, so the standing crop acts as a filter. Or, if there is a waterway present, start grazing at the opposite end of the paddock to the waterway.
  • Make breaks “long and narrow” – Research shows that the crop will be utilised more efficiently by cattle.
  • Back fence – Regularly back fence stock off grazed breaks to help minimise pugging damage and reduce run off risk.
  • Matching stock to the paddock and crop - Consider using high-risk paddocks for grazing of lighter stock (sheep) while lower risk paddocks can be used for grazing heavier stock (cattle) or deer.
  • Animal welfare – Is there appropriate shelter and somewhere to lie down? If necessary use a stand off area or otherwise provide temporary bedding to allow stock the opportunity to lie and rest on firm, dry ground.


The following resources are relevant to all livestock farmers – dairy, beef, sheep and deer – who graze pasture or crops intensively over winter.

Careful planning in spring is an important part of successful wintering – and it starts with choosing the right paddocks to grow winter crops in.

- DairyNZ South Island lead, Tony Finch

“Choosing your paddocks is a crucial part of planning for winter. Critical source areas, waterways, shelter, water troughs and being prepared for prolonged weather events all need to be taken into account when selecting a paddock,” said Mr Finch.

Critical source areas are low lying parts of a farm, such as gullies and swales, where water flows after rain events. These areas can transport soil, E.coli and phosphorus into waterways. Paddocks with multiple slopes and large critical source areas are best avoided for winter crop grazing, as they are time-consuming to graze and present an environmental risk.

“Strategic grazing and careful management of critical source areas resulted in an 80 to 90 percent reduction in sediment and phosphorus losses in a 2012-2014 trial at Telford Dairy,” said Mr Finch.

“Creating buffer zones or grass strips in and around critical source areas and next to waterways helps slow water flows and trap contaminants. These buffer zones should be left uncultivated and ungrazed to be effective. The faster water flows in a buffer zone, the wider the zone needs to be.”

“There are a number of things to consider when planning how to fence the paddock and position feed and water troughs. Using portable troughs reduces the amount of walking cows need to do, decreasing soil damage and mud.”

Cow lying time is another factor to consider when planning for winter. “Correct lying times, at least eight hours a day, reduce the risk of lameness and stress on the animal. On a winter break-fed paddock, consider how your cows will have access to enough dry areas to lie down,” Mr Finch advises.

“The South Island can experience periods of extreme winter weather, such as snow and heavy rainfall, so it’s essential to have another grazing option. This could involve moving cows to a sheltered area or leaving an ungrazed area next to a shelter belt for bad weather. It’s also a good idea to allow a feed buffer in your budget to account for extra feeding on cold, wet or windy days.”

Mr Finch says that, alongside other organisations, DairyNZ has provided events over the past few weeks for farmers, rural professionals and rural contractors to upskill themselves on good wintering practices. 

“There’s been a lot of focus on winter grazing practices recently. As a result of this, there has been strong attendance at wintering events as everyone is keen to improve their knowledge. Successful wintering is good for the cows, the environment and the people involved.”

For more advice on planning for winter grazing visit

Do you have a query about NZARM? Contact us here


Members Area: