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Published: 2013-05-20 00:00:00

Farmers are being urged to stand stock off green feed before they’re transported to help keep Waikato’s roads clear of effluent and safe for users.

The reminder comes ahead of ‘gypsy day’, which occurs in the week leading up to and immediately following 1 June each year. It involves the mass transporting of cows around the country’s roads as farm contractors relocate themselves and their stock in time for the new season. 

“We’ve been working closely with industry, in particular farmers and livestock carriers, and they generally do a good job of moving stock cleanly,” said Waikato Regional Council’s senior transport planner, Isy Kennedy. 

“However, stock truck effluent spillage does still occur on Waikato roads, presenting environmental, road safety and personal health issues. It’s smelly and unsightly, and has the potential to reach waterways and degrade water quality,” she said. 

“Waikato is the most prolifically stocked region in New Zealand, with in excess of 4.5 million dairy cows and 600,000 beef stock. 

“A cow’s daily combined effluent is approximately 52 litres, and a truck effluent tank’s capacity is just 200 litres. It means the spillage of effluent onto roads is a real risk unless farmers and livestock carriers take some simple steps ahead of time,” Ms Kennedy said. 

Farmers are responsible for:

  • confirming stock pick-up times in advance to eliminate confusion
  • moving stock close to the loading ramp the day before, when possible
  • standing stock off green feed for a minimum of four hours (with water)
  • using dry feed before transport because it results in less effluent. 

Livestock carriers are reminded to:

  • communicate with farmers and be clear about pick-up times
  • remind the farmer to stand stock prior to transport
  • be aware of, and use, stock effluent disposal facilities in the region
  • regularly empty the truck’s effluent tanks to prevent the need to discharge surplus effluent onto the roadway. 

There is one in-transit effluent dumping site on SH5 at Tapapa and three dump sites at sale yards in Morrinsville, Taupo and Tuakau. There are also disposal facilities at Greenlea Meats (Hamilton), AFFCO (Horotiu) and Ruakura Abattoir for trucks visiting those sites. 

Waikato Regional Council is working with road controlling authorities to establish further effluent dump sites in the region. 

“Ultimately, good planning means stock will be cleaner on arrival at the freezing works or sale yards, potentially increasing the premium price, and our roads won’t be unnecessarily dirtied,” Ms Kennedy said. 

Road users can report stock effluent spills to the Waikato Regional Council’s freephone on 0800 800 401.