West Coast farmers are helping nurse hundreds of emaciated stock from a neighbouring farm, and say earlier offers of help to the farmer were rebuffed.

Veterinarians have had to euthanise 150 cows and 30 calves after a Rotomanu dairy herd was found in "various stages of starvation".

A further 160 have been sent to the meatworks - 100 since yesterday.

Hundreds of others have gone, or are going, to neighbouring farms as they are too sick to travel any further.


Federated Farmers West Coast president Katie Milne said a lot of stock was moved out yesterday.

She confirmed some people had offered to help the farmer, but he "did not know what to do".

Westland Milk Products has stopped milk collection from the farm.

Chief executive Rod Quin told Radio New Zealand last night its advisers had been working with the farmer.

When asked if they knew how emaciated the stock had become, he said it came down to "whether the farmer has been up front".

There was the "potential" that animals had been hidden from the dairy company's advisers, he said.

Mr Quin said today that once again the West Coast community had rallied and shown a huge degree of generosity and humanity to deal with an emergency.

"People are setting aside any feelings they might have about the actions that led to these animals being in such a state, to focus on what they can do to prevent further suffering."

Farmers had taken stock to their properties (either buying animals, or offering leased or free grazing), and brought their labour and machinery to help with mustering stock for transport, and with distribution of feed.

Transport companies had also helped shift stock, he said.

Ministry of Primary Industries manager Peter Hyde said the farm consultant and the farm owner were working on de-stocking the herd.

Federated Farmers and local farmers turned up yesterday to offer their assistance.

"They have been feeding out silage and drafting out the cows to be sent to a meat processing plant. Another 100 cows have been sent to a meat processing plant."

Animal welfare investigators would continue to monitor the farm until it was completely de-stocked.