Farmers are being urged to prepare their stock for transport ahead of the annual ‘gypsy week’ to help keep the Waikato’s roads clear of effluent and safe for users.
Every year in the first week of June, the dairy industry sees a mass transporting of cows around the country’s roads as farmers prepare for the new season.
Waikato Regional Council senior transport planner Isy Kennedy said responsibility for minimising the amount of effluent on the roads was the responsibility of farmers and livestock carriers.
“The traditional gypsy day now occurs over a week and with it not far away we’d like farmers to take time now to make the necessary arrangements,” Ms Kennedy said.
“In the Waikato, the biggest dairy region in the country with around 1.6 million cows, there is an increased risk of effluent from animals on the move getting onto our roads and into our waterways.
“Effluent spilled from stock trucks can cause traffic crashes by making roads slippery or spattering muck on to windscreens,” she said. “As well as being a health hazard for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, it’s smelly and unsightly.”
Ms Kennedy said standing stock off green feed for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 12 hours with water will greatly reduce the amount of effluent produced during transit.
There are a number of other steps the council would like farmers to take before cows are loaded onto the truck. These include:
- being clear on the time stock will be picked up
- moving the animals close to the loading ramp the day beforehand
- using dry feed before travel because it results in less effluent.
“Good planning means stock will be cleaner on arrival at the freezing works or sale yards, potentially increasing the premium price,” Ms Kennedy said.
She added that stock truck drivers also needed to ensure effluent tanks were regularly emptied to prevent effluent overflowing onto roads and into rivers and streams.
There is one in-transit effluent dumping site on SH5 at Tapapa and there are now four dump sites at sale yards in Morrinsville, Taupo, Matamata and Tuakau. Waikato Regional Council is working with road controlling authorities to establish further effluent dump sites in the region.
Road users can report stock effluent spills to the Waikato Regional Council’s freephone on 0800 800 401.