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Published: 2009-05-13 00:00:00

With the annual Gypsy Day coming up on 1 June, Waikato dairy farmers are being urged to make a special effort to keep stock effluent off roads by standing cows off green pasture before transporting them on trucks.

Every year, the dairy industry sees a mass transporting of cows around the country’s roads as farmers prepare for the new season.

In the Waikato, the biggest dairy region in the country with more than 1.6 million dairy cows, the roads get particularly busy with stock trucks around this time of year.

That means there is a heightened risk of stock effluent from cows on the move getting on to roads, vehicles, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, and into waterways.

"This is a significant road safety and health issue," said Environment Waikato senior transport planner Isy Kennedy.

"In 1992, we had a motorcyclist die after he lost control of his bike because of slippery road conditions caused by stock truck effluent.

"With the Waikato unfortunately having the highest annual road toll in the country, we’re keen to see roads kept as safe as possible around Gypsy Day time.

"It’s also very unpleasant for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians if they or their vehicles get covered in stock effluent."

Ms Kennedy said farmers could substantially reduce the amount of effluent coming from animals by standing them off green pasture for up to 12 hours prior to transportation. Standing off involves keeping animals away from any green feed, with access to water and dry feed.

"With Gypsy Day now not far away, we’d like farmers to be making the necessary arrangements to make sure they can transport their animals in a way that does not inconvenience others or the environment generally," said Ms Kennedy.