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Relocating Stock

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Guidelines for grazing farmers Guidelines for flood/drought

Sending in-milk cows off the property is a practice where a grazier cares for and milks the cows during floods or drought, while the owner renovates pastures and recovers. This page provides guidelines for both grazing farmers and flood or drought-affected farmers. For the grazing farmers, recommendations include specific handling, health checks, and treatment of the cows. For the affected farmers, guidance is given on managing stock and communicating with the grazier. The page also emphasizes the importance of a written agreement, with links to standard agreements, to ensure clear responsibilities and avoid misunderstandings.

Sending in-milk cows off the property will reduce feed demand for flood or drought-stricken farmers.

In overview, the grazier feeds, milks and generally cares for the cows and keeps the proceeds from the milk. This gives the owner of the stock a chance to clear up and renovate pastures and allows time for the owner and property to recover.

Sometimes farmers offering to graze stock in an emergency are not completely aware of what they are taking on.  Likewise, stock owners may have unrealistic expectations of those who are caring for their herd.  It is prudent to have a written agreement so that each party is clear on what their responsibilities are, and misunderstandings are avoided.

However, in a flood emergency there may not be enough time to organise a written agreement before the stock arrive, so negotiating it as soon as possible afterwards with the help of Federated Farmers or other appropriate agency is advisable - certainly better than having no formal agreement.

Standard agreements that can be adapted to suit are readily available (see Rural Disaster Response Centre Interim Grazing Agreement for Relocated Livestock)

Guidelines for grazing farmers

  • Try not to take cows from more than one herd, and don't take more than you can comfortably handle
  • Check the TB and EBL status of the cows, and consider leptospirosis vaccinations. Offer only if your herd is clear as well
  • Indicate to the owner how long you expect to be able to graze the stock
  • Offer to pay for cartage both ways. The owner will be strapped for cash and you will be receiving the benefit of the milk sales
  • When cows arrive, ensure that they are clearly tagged
  • Keep them separate from your herd to avoid the stress of both herds re-establishing hierarchies
  • Milk the grazing cows last as disease prevention/hygiene measure
  • Provide and record appropriate treatment for mastitis and other health problems
  • Check with the stock owner regarding mating and herd tests. LIC can assist with this too.

Guidelines for flood/drought affected farmers

  • Don't be tempted to retain more cows than you can comfortably feed. The cost of feeding them properly at home while pastures are being renovated is high. Better to allow pastures to recover fully before returning to full stocking rates
  • The risk of slips and losses while your stock are grazed off is yours
  • Make a point of meeting the grazer at the earliest opportunity to establish personal contact and discuss any issues related to stock health, mating etc
  • Remember, it's an all-care-no-responsibility arrangement so the risk of slips and losses is yours
  • A weekly phone call to the grazer is a good idea to hear how things are going and to advise how the recovery on your farm is progressing.

Related info

Last updated: Aug 2023
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