Intensive Winter Grazing


We know that intensive grazing is an essential element of many Otago farming systems, but when it’s not managed well it can result in significant nutrient and sediment losses into waterways that may negatively impact on water quality.


In general:

  • If the area of intensive winter grazing is outside any critical source areas and within the limits stated in the chart below, and you manage your grazing well, you wouldn’t need a resource consent.

  • If the area of intensive winter grazing is large, or you do not meet the permitted criteria, you would need a resource consent.


Use the flow chart to work out whether you would be likely to need a resource consent for intensive winter grazing under the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.


Cattle in paddock near waterway

Well-managed intensive grazing activity

A well-managed intensive winter grazing activity means:

  • Avoiding critical source areas, such as wet spots in paddocks, gullies and swales (see definition of “critical source area”  below or click here for a fact sheet)
  • Leaving a grassed or planted buffer strip between the area of grazing and any critical source area or water body
  • Break feeding from the top to the bottom of a sloped paddock

Refer to your farming industry organisation for more guidance, as they’ll be able to assist with solutions specific to your farming operation.

Good preparation is crucial for managing your intensive winter grazing well. It’s best to start thinking about how you will manage your grazing well before selecting paddocks and beginning cultivation. This winter grazing plan template could help. 


Not sure whether you need a consent or not?

Contact us on 0800 474 082 or email

More information about our resource consent process.

In general:

  • If the area of intensive winter grazing is large, or you are unable to comply with the permitted activity criteria, you would need a resource consent.

If you need a consent, the earlier you contact ORC to discuss your application, the better.

For your application, we’ll need to know:

  • Where and how much land is grazed intensively
  • Which stock types are grazed
  • Which types of crops are grazed
  • How the intensive grazing is managed to avoid nutrient and sediment loss Please note, new national government rules for existing winter grazing will come into effect in November 2022.

Please note, while these rules relate to the National Environmental Standard for Freshwater, the following two rules under the Otago Water Plan are relevant to intensive winter grazing.

  • Any discharge from land that has been disturbed by stock, where sediment reaches a water body or the Coastal Marine Area, that doesn’t have a sediment mitigation is prohibited. (RPW 12.c.0.3)
  • The discharge of sediment that results in an increase to the local sedimentation or has a conspicuous change of colour or clarity in a river, lake or wetland is not permitted. (RPW 12.c.1.1)

This information will be reviewed regularly to check for any changes required as a result of new national requirements. For more information please refer to the Ministry for the Environment website.

Click here if you think you are ready to apply for a consent (scroll down to Winter Grazing).



Intensive Winter Grazing

Grazing livestock on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins on 1 May and ends with the close of 30 September of the same year.

Critical Source Area

A landscape feature such as a gully, swale,or depression that accumulates runoff from adjacent flats and slopes and delivers contaminants to surface water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and artificial watercourses (excluding subsurface drains, and artificial watercourses that do not connect to natural water bodies). View the fact sheet here.

Water Body

Fresh water or geothermal water in a river, lake, stream, pond, wetland, or aquifer, or any part thereof, that is not located within the coastal marine area.

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