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.
When the 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.
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.
Standing cows off
- If standing cows off on concrete for 12 hours + a day for 3 days in succession, cows should be given at least one full day on an alternate surface to rest.
- To prevent mastitis in a standoff situation - regular application of teat spray, dry cows included. This might mean running the cows through the shed.
- Many farmers need alternative grazing for their young stock.
- Ring the RST on 0800 787 254 for requests and offers of feed and grazing.
- Cows producing 1.6kgMS require a diet with 18% protein (higher if producing more)
- If no grass is available you cannot feed cows 100% PKE in early lactation - but can feed up to 7kg PKE as long as they have effective fibre from silage.
Feeding silted pasture
- Silt can stop rumen function and may contain pathogens such as lepto, neospora or BVD that have been washed in from another site upstream.
- Graze silted pasture with dry cows for just 2-3 hours at a time. Follow up with quality unsilted feed.
For more information
- Crisis Priority Checklist
- Wet weather management handout
- Decision tree for flooded land document
- Managing stressed stock
- Managing stressed people
- Action Plan responding to floods in South Otago
Call the DairyNZ Farmer Information Service on 0800 4 DAIRYNZ (0800 4 324 7969).