Intensive Winter Grazing
SPCA advocates that winter grazing of cattle is only undertaken when the welfare of the animals is adequately protected.
Intensive winter grazing typically involves farmed animals being ‘strip fed’ pasture or crop. This provides feed for animals while limiting pasture damage. However, when done poorly, there are a number of significant welfare concerns. Cows can churn the ground into mud, creating welfare risks including mastitis, lameness, and significantly reduced lying times resulting in chronic stress. In intensive winter grazing systems cows may not be able to display normal behaviours and can be exposed to cold stress due to a lack of lack of shade and shelter.
SPCA opposes intensive wintering grazing practices that result in poor welfare conditions. All animals kept outdoors must have access to well-drained areas to prevent the accumulation of wet muddy ground conditions that have negative impacts to hoof health, resting, lying, and feeding behaviours.
We advocate that dairy cattle in intensive winter grazing systems have clean, well-drained lying areas, access to clean drinking water, and that they must be moved to a suitable calving area at least 14 days prior to calving to prevent calves being born in mud.