Shelterbelt benefits backed
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.