Gillian Saich from Invercargill is new to dairy farming and was thrilled when a dairy farmer offered her work experience on his farm.
As the flood waters begin to recede, only now are the full effects of the damage able to be identified on the West Coast and around the Rangitata catchment.
DairyNZ South Island hub lead Tony Finch says the ferociousness of the recent rain took many farmers by surprise and, a few days on, some farms are still working with intermittent power and closed roads affecting milk collection. Approximately 22 farms are affected in the Rangitata and another 40 farms on the West Coast.
“As the flood waters begin to disappear, the full extent of the damage and the clean-up will be seen,” said Finch.
“Some farmers will be thinking about milk that cannot be collected. Every situation is different, and we recommend farmers contact their supply company and local council for advice on the best way to manage uncollected milk. Also talk to your DairyNZ regional team for advice on farm system support.
“It’s worth taking the time to look ahead by creating a feed plan. Assess current feed resources and cow condition, and damage to infrastructure. Damaged, wet tracks can create issues with lameness, so contact your local Healthy Hoof provider, they are trained to help with this problem," said Finch.
“There is also the potential for more rain in the coming week, so we encourage farmers to plan for that by looking at how more rain could add pressure to their system – are the paddocks likely to reflood? Where should the cows be kept? What will you do if milk collection is still cut-off? Planning ahead can support good decision-making at the time.
“Farmers are a pretty resilient bunch and very solutions-focused. Even when they are isolated geographically, there are many people, organisations and information available to support – they are not alone.”
The impacted South Island farms are currently affected by damaged infrastructure, rivers cutting new paths through farmland and silt accumulation across hectares of land. This is compounded in some areas by bridges and roads out of action affecting milk collection.
DairyNZ has flood management information on its website: www.dairynz.co.nz