Knowing what to do will reduce the immediate impact of the flood and planning strategies to deal with the aftermath will allow for a quicker recovery.
Before the storm
- Designate family or staff to secure homes, then farm buildings
- Shift stock to a sheltered, secure area away from trees or buildings
- Store or tie down anything that might blow away
- Turn off gas appliances and tanks
- Turn off electric power to avoid surges
- Park machinery well away from buildings and trees that may blow over
- Have tarpaulins, plastic covers and ropes ready
- Tune in to the local radio station
- Ensure the safety of family and staff
- Move stock to safety, shelter and water and make sure they can't wander. Are the electric fences working?
- Check power and phones. Report outages
- Check dogs, poultry and pets
- Check on neighbours - do they need help or can they help you?
- Check buildings at risk, feed stacks. Move equipment and feed to higher ground.
- Use generators if necessary to keep pumps, refrigeration, electric fences and household appliances running. Flood pumps may need attention.
- Move stock to a stand-off area so that they do not damage good pastures
- Feed stock
- Check roads and tracks, bridges, culverts. Report road and tanker track access problems to council and/or dairy company
- Clean up houses
- Look after family, staff, neighbours. Accept help if you need it.
- Milk herd if you can, but note that you may choose to delay milking or milk once-a-day to allow you time for other priorities. Watch for high SCCs and mastitis, and keep in touch with the dairy company as necessary.
In a day or two or when flood has receded
- Assess damage to water supply and reticulation system. Which troughs are contaminated with silt and will need cleaning?
- Assess damage to access lanes, tracks, gateways, culverts and fences. What clearing away of flood debris is needed?
- Assess damage to pastures, the depth and type of silt
- Assess available non-flooded pastures and other undamaged feed reserves
- Contact local council, flood relief co-ordinator, DairyNZ staff, Federated Farmers, MAF, the NZ Landcare Trust, Taskforce Green or other resource providers
- Talk to bank manager, insurance company
- Accept help when offered, and ask for it if you need it.
Caring for cows in flood events: Pre and post calving
Calf and Cow Welfare during calving
It is highly likely more cows will calve early. Ensure regular calf pick up can be achieved where practically possible. Keep up regular observation of cows and spot abnormal behaviour that can be a sign of metabolic disorders.
Try to supplement post calving (colostrum cows) with calcium. Ground limeflour can be mixed in with feed and fed in-shed, or made into a slurry with molasses and poured onto bales. Read more.
Cows being fit for transport and correct supplementation will be critical. Refer to the transport guidelines here.
The provision and intake of Magnesium prior to calving may be difficult. The usual pasture and water trough application options may not be possible. Magnesium can be put on to baled feed. Preferentially supplement cows closest to calving. Apply a slurried mixture of Magnesium oxide to hay - no more than 15 cows to one Magnesium treated bale. Molasses can make this slurry more palatable. Read more.
Due to the difficulty of supplementation be prepared for more metabolic issues after calving. Ensure the farm team are aware of the additional risk, briefed on what to look out for and what the treatment protocol is. Prompt affective treatment will help avoid additional workload.
Altered Feed Types
If cows have shifted or you are feeding newly purchased feed ensure the risks of transition have been addressed. Ensure feed provision matches the requirements of pre and post calved cows. Read more.
And check what nutrition the new feed provides. In general, how much cows will eat will reduce in poor weather. Check the amount of leftover feed/wastage and adapt your feed allocations accordingly.
For more information refer to:
- Crisis Priority Checklist
- Wet weather management handout
- Decision tree for flooded land document
- Managing stressed stock
- Managing stressed people
For more infomation about farming out of a flood, call the DairyNZ Farmer Information Service on 0800 4 DAIRYNZ (0800 4 324 7969).