Shel­ter­belt ben­e­fits backed

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

FederatedFarmers is to ac­tively re­in­force with all farm­ers the vi­tal pro­tec­tion shel­ter­belts of­fer to live­stock. ‘‘The re­cent po­lar blast should re­mind all dairy farm­ers that ad­verse weather events in win­ter can also strike in spring and au­tumn,’’ said Willy Le­ferink, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers dairy chair­per­son.

‘‘Stock shel­ter is vi­tal and if farm­ers don’t en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate shel­ter they could well be risk­ing pros­e­cu­tion un­der the An­i­mal Wel­fare Act.

‘‘Live­stock are valu­able com­mer­cial as­sets but we also have a strong eth­i­cal obli­ga­tion to­wards them.

‘‘New Zealand’s rep­u­ta­tion comes from in­tegrity built into our farm­ing sys­tem and an­i­mal hus­bandry forms a big part of that.

‘‘While cat­tle and sheep are nat­u­rally adapted to cold cli­mates, they need shel­ter to thrive.

‘‘Stud­ies show how shel­ter­belts are vi­tal to farm­ing.

‘‘Pro­longed low air tem­per­a­tures, like we’ve had in many parts, will see stock eat­ing a lot more feed in or­der to keep warm. That di­verts en­ergy away from pro­duc­ing pro­tein or fi­bre.

‘‘It’s an own-goal be­cause a lack of shel­ter re­sults in higher feed costs with­out any pay­back. Dur­ing calv­ing, farm­ers with­out ad­e­quate shel­ter also run the real risk of meta­bolic dis­or­ders.

‘‘The good news is that Fed­er­ated Farm­ers has re­gional plant­ing guides avail­able that could well as­sist.

‘‘ These guides are eas­ily avail­able by Googling Trees for Bees. As all rec­om­mended plant­ings are ‘bee friendly’, farm­ers gain twice over through en­hanced pol­li­na­tion.

MAF wel­comed Fed­er­ated Farm­ers lead­er­ship on shel­ter­belts as a part of im­ple­ment­ing good an­i­mal wel­fare prac­tice says Ge­off Allen, di­rec­tor com­pli­ance and en­force­ment.

‘‘The An­i­mal Wel­fare Act does spec­ify that shel­ter is re­quired and it is vi­tal that farm­ers are aware of the obli­ga­tions they have to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate shel­ter for their an­i­mals.

‘‘We find that by far the ma­jor­ity of farm­ers are good farm­ers who want to do the right thing and fol­low rec­om­mended best prac­tice.

‘‘Ed­u­ca­tion and sup­port is im­per­a­tive and with MAF and Fed­er­ated Farm­ers work­ing to­gether farm­ers are hear­ing the same clear mes­sages about the im­por­tance of stock shel­ter,’’ Mr Allen said.

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