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  Council » Policies and Plans » Plans under development » PROPOSED WAIKATO REGIONAL PLAN CHANGE 1 » Frequently asked questions (FAQ) and infosheets » Fencing waterways and stock exclusion

Fencing waterways and stock exclusion

Stock exclusion factsheetClick here [PDF, 368 KB] to download

What do the proposed rules say about stock exclusion and fencing off water bodies?

The proposed plan change states that water bodies must be fenced to exclude cattle, horses, deer and pigs, unless those animals are prevented from entering the bed of the water body by a stock-proof natural barrier formed by topography or vegetation.

How does the proposed plan change define a water body?

Water bodies are defined as any:

  • river that continually contains surface water
  • drain that continually contains water
  • wetland, including constructed wetlands
  • lake.

What are the benefits of keeping stock out of waterways?

Dung from stock is one of the major sources of bacteria and other faecal pathogens in our waterways. When stock have access to waterways, it increases the likelihood that dung and effluent will contaminant the water, putting both humans and animals at risk for diseases.

Restricting access to waterways can have benefits on your farm too. Keeping stock out of waterways reduces the risk they’ll come into contact with dung or urine from other animals. Putting in a reticulated water supply ensures your stock have access to clean, good quality water.

What are the deadlines for fencing and stock exclusion?

The dates for fencing off and excluding stock from water bodies depend on where your property is located.

Properties in Priority 1 sub-catchments will need stock excluded by 1 March 2025, and properties in Priority 2 and 3 sub-catchments will need stock excluded by 1 July 2026.

Not sure which sub-catchment you’re in? Use our Find My Farm tool.

What are the setbacks to keep stock out of water?

The fence must be stock-proof for cattle, horses, deer and/or pigs. New fences must meet setback requirements in the proposed plan:

  • 1m setback for land under a 15 degree slope
  • 3m setback for land between a 15 and 25 degree slope
  • For land over a 25 degree slope, fencing is not required where it is impracticable to do so and excluding stock from waterways will be addressed in a Farm Environment Plan

Will exisiting fences around water bodies need to be replaced to meet the minmum setback requirement?

There is no immediate requirement to remove fences that do not meet the minimum setback requirement. However, when any existing fences are replaced they must meet the setback requirement.

What about stock crossing water?

Under the proposed plan change, livestock must not enter or pass across the bed of any water body, except when using a livestock crossing structure. This does not include when horses are ridden or led across the water.

What about stock exclusion on steep land?

Land over a 25 degree slope does not have to be fenced where fencing is impractical. If steep land cannot be fenced, your Farm Environment Plan will need to include alternative mitigation options.

It is understood that steep land is generally lightly stocked, with less effect on water quality, and that riparian setbacks are likely to be less effective in these areas. It also may not be practical to fence water bodies on steep land due to both the cost and the possible side effects of earthworks and soil disturbance associated with fencing. If you are planning to do earthworks to bench and track steep land for fences, you should contact council to discuss your plans.

Will sheep and dairy goat farmers need to exclude stock from water bodies?

Farmers with only sheep or goats on their land do not need to prevent these stock from entering water bodies. These animals tend to avoid standing in water and generally do not defecate in the water, however it is still good practice to ensure sheep and goats are excluded from water ways. Properties with any cattle, horses, deer or pigs on them will need to fence the specified water bodies if there is no natural stock proof barrier.

This information has been provided based on Waikato Regional Council’s interpretation of the proposed plan. The proposed plan is subject to change through the hearings process.

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