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Grazing near wetlands

It is best to keep stock away from wetland areas as they can damage soils, disturb native plants and animals, and dirty the water. You can reduce damage to wetlands by grazing pasture near them in mid summer – mid autumn. Troughs can be placed under outflows

Stock with uncontrolled access to wetland areas can:

  • increase nutrient levels through their urine and dung
  • pug and compact the soil
  • cause erosion
  • disturb the wildlife
  • graze on and trample wetland plants
  • open up sites for weed invasion
  • carry weed seeds in their hooves, coats, or dung
  • become trapped and costly to rescue.

Grazing on pasture near wetlands can also cause pugging and affect the quality of water draining into the wetland, particularly during wet periods.

Protecting wetlands from stock

You can encourage native plants to regenerate from natural seed sources by fencing off wetlands. It will prevent stock getting trapped in the swamp and in some areas may reduce the incidence of liver fluke. It also helps to improve water quality.

Fencing off and planting the edges of streams flowing into wetlands helps to keep excess nutrients out of the wetland. Our 'Clean Streams' Project may be able to help you with this.

Boggy pasture near wetlands should not be grazed during winter or wet periods to protect the soil and the wetland.

Farmers using wetlands for stock drinking water may wish to place a drinking trough for stock under the outflow pipe of a dam outside the wetland’s fence. This is good idea if the outflow does not flow into a natural waterway. However, if it flows into a natural waterway doing this may stop native fish from reaching your wetland.

Minimise stock damage

It is better to graze sheep rather than cattle near wetlands, as sheep are less likely to enter water, pug soil or ring-bark trees. It can be useful in special situations to graze the edge of wetlands, for example if the dominant species are non-native and will be eaten by the stock (for example, young willows). However, in most cases it is best to keep stock out of wetlands and control weeds by hand.

Mid summer to mid autumn is the best time to graze land near wetlands as it will be drier and most bird breeding will have ended.

Peat bogs should never be grazed as they naturally have low nutrient levels. An increase in nutrients (from stock dung or urine) can allow weeds to invade.

Find out more about threats to wetlands and forest fragments.

Use this information to help you prepare your Wetland Plan.