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One year after the floods, dairy farmers are battling to lift milk production

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One year after the floods, dairy farmers are battling to lift milk production

​​​​​​One 12 months after a “horrendous” flood swept by his northern New South Wales property, dairy farmer Peter Graham and his cows are nonetheless combating the stress of what occurred.

“They do not wish to milk,” he stated.

“It is simply taking so lengthy to get the cows again to the place they was once.”

Throughout the area, lots of of cows and plenty of bales of fodder had been washed away in the catastrophic event.

Crops and pastures had been ruined, vats of milk needed to be dumped, and equipment, infrastructure and houses had been destroyed.

“To see one-and-a-half metres of water coming over the Richmond River … like a tidal wave, yeah it was fairly horrendous,” Mr Graham stated.

Cows leaving the dairy after being milk.
Cows leaving the dairy on Mr Graham’s Codrington farm on a moist afternoon a 12 months after the floods.(ABC Rural: Kim Honan)

His cattle had water virtually as much as their backs on his Codrington farm, whereas different farmers downstream needed to watch their cattle being washed away.

“It has been an extended, gradual draining course of to get someplace close to again on monitor,” Mr Graham stated.

“I am nonetheless on a really gravelly street; I am nowhere close to the freeway, that is for positive.”

Milk manufacturing stays low

Mr Graham and his workforce labored tirelessly to maintain mastitis beneath management, and had been treating as many as 28 cows a day.

“I assumed that was actually excessive, however that was nothing in comparison with others round that had been doing 90 or 100; some had been treating their total herd,” he stated.

Mastitis is an irritation of the udder tissue that usually happens when a cow’s milking is interrupted, lowering the quantity of milk produced.

“We had been at 34 per cent of the place we had been [compared to the same time last year],” Mr Graham stated.

“And we thought that was fairly severe, however the worst of it’s, we’re nonetheless at 50 per cent.”

Whereas the cows not have mastitis, their milk manufacturing remains to be low, which might be attributed to emphasize.

Mr Graham stated most dairy farmers he has spoken to throughout the area are nonetheless at 60 per cent manufacturing.

He says it can take one other six months to get again to pre-flood ranges.

Sooner or later at a time

Darryl Kennedy and his daughter Amy Campbell managed to avoid wasting all their animals on their Dunbible property within the Tweed, however the flood has nonetheless hit their enterprise laborious.

“We have been there 65 years and it is the worst flood we have ever had,” Mr Kennedy stated.

A man and woman in blue shirts stand under a fig tree.
Darryl Kennedy and Amy Campbell say it can take 4 to 5 years to rebuild their herd to pre-flood numbers.(ABC Rural: Kim Honan)

They had been unable to take advantage of their cows for 14 days after their dairy was flooded. 

“Then after we began to take advantage of them we did not have the machines working correctly, and we needed to tip that milk out on the bottom,” Mr Kennedy stated.

Ms Campbell stated the aftermath has been emotional.

“I do not know whether or not it is worse; seeing the cows with all of the expertise they have with mastitis or seeing the injury it is carried out to my father — [and] having to undergo that on daily basis,” she stated.

Tuncester farmer Paul Weir is accustomed to floods, however the nature of this one has made him think about getting out of the business.

“It did not appear proper; it saved coming and coming, engulfing your belongings,” he stated.

“Seeing the cows swimming away, it is surreal.”

After securing some insurance coverage he has determined to remain and increase his sheds on mounds to place issues out of attain.

Dead dairy cows line a fence on a farm.
Paul Weir was devastated to lose dairy cows when floodwater inundated his farm outdoors Lismore.(Provided: Paul Weir)

Ice-cream manufacturing facility nonetheless rebuilding

With a headquarters, rural retailer, feed mill and historic ice-cream manufacturing facility in Lismore, the dairy cooperative Norco performs a giant function within the area’s dairy business.

The manufacturing facility, which employed 170 individuals, suffered important flood injury and is at the moment present process a significant rebuild, on account of be accomplished by August.

Norco's ice cream factory inundated
Norco’s ice-cream manufacturing facility was inundated in February’s floods. (Provided: Norco)

They’ve raised tools, together with electrical strains, by 15 metres to try to get above the subsequent large flood.

A man in white shirt and black vest stands in a factory.
Michael Hampson says some farmers are nonetheless within the rebuilding part.(ABC North Coast: Leah White)

New quick-release mechanisms on equipment may also make it simpler to maneuver them if a flood threatens.

Chief govt Michael Hampson stated the cooperative is attempting to assist its members to rebuild their herds by offering interest-free loans which have been used to purchase 1,000 cows.

“It is good to have the ability to present them with further means … to recover from what was probably the most difficult interval actually that I’ve ever seen within the dairy business,” he stated.

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