All cattle should live in a suitable and comfortable environment. Their home affects how they feel, think and behave. Providing your cattle with shelter and a comfortable resting area is one way you can make sure that your cattle stays healthy and happy.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act outlines how people must take care of and act towards animals in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Police and SPCA work together to make sure people in New Zealand follow these laws.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) are responsible for making sure the welfare needs of animals in their care are met. Learning about the Five Domains helps us to understand these welfare needs and how we can make sure we provide these. One of the Five Domains is Environment. In this section you will learn about this domain and how you can make sure your cattle have the right environment, shelter, bedding, etc. they need for positive welfare.
Cattle can grow very large and need a lot of space. Cattle spend a lot of time grazing and eating grass and other forms of pasture this means they will require a lot of paddock area to be able to do this. Another thing to remember is that your paddock/grass area will need time to grow back, after being grazed down by your cattle.
This is called rotating your paddocks. When your cattle have eaten the majority of your pasture in one area, ideally you should have another paddock available where your cattle can graze in another area (this is also helpful for avoiding large numbers of internal parasites).
Cattle are not happy (or healthy) if they are kept in one small area all the time, as it can become muddy and dirty. You should make sure you have enough land available for your cattle before you bring them home.
Grazing is a big part of natureal cattle behaviour, so you need to make sure your cattle alway have access to nice, fresh pasture to eat. There are some tips for how to make your grass grow back faster and tastier in our Nutrition section.
We all know New Zealand weather can be a bit crazy – four seasons in one day. Sometimes the sun is out and it is really hot, other times it is very cold and can snow. Cattle notice the change in weather too, so they will need some form of shelter for protection from the hot sun, rain and wind. Cattle can cope with changes in temperature, however, they cannot cope with warm weather when there is no shelter/shade - this can be very dangerous for them.
If your cattle become too hot or too cold, they can become ill. This is why it is very important to make sure your cattle are protected from the heat and cold. In addition, different breeds of cattle can be more or less sensitive to these environmental fluctuations as well.
Shelter for your cattle should be appropriate so that it stays warm and dry during the cold winter months and shady and cool during the hot summer months. Shelter for your cattle can be made from:
Cattle are very strong (and curious) animals so you will need a strong sturdy fence to keep them safe from wandering into areas they shouldn’t be, or grazing areas they shouldn’t (like the neighbour's crops).
Checking your fencing for such things as missing or broken fencing batons is important to ensure your cattle stay where they are supposed to be and to protect them from injuring themselves on broken fencing.
Cattle need somewhere warm, ventilated and comfortable to rest, like a weather proof stall. Bedding should be comfortable, and also somewhere which can be cleaned out regularly as well, if inside.
The suitable material to use for bedding include:
Remember - it is important to never go in a field with cattle, or into their environment/shelter, unless you are accompanied by an adult.
This is not only for your safety, but for the safety of the cattle as well!