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Planning Key to Flood Recovery in NZ

22 March 2012

NEW ZEALAND - As the floodwaters recede in Northland, DairyNZ is advising farmers to take stock and create a plan to minimise the damage.

DairyNZ regional leader for Northland, Tafi Manjala says that farmers need to concentrate on the things they can control.

“We are hearing of widespread flooding on dairy farms throughout Northland, with the worst affected areas being Hikurangi, Mangakahia, Tangiteroria and Tangiwahine.”

“The key to a successful post-flood recovery is prioritising,” he says.

"To best manage this, start off by assessing the damage and writing down all the jobs you need to do. Prioritise tasks then delegate where you can and work through the priority list focussing on what you can physically manage in a day."

Once the farm assessment is complete and the clean-up underway Mr Manjala advises affected farmers to assess any feed deficit the flood may have caused and determine how they are going to fill the gap.

“This will help identify how much feed will be required against what feed is available. Be realistic about how many cows can be fed and at what cost. Options include increasing feed supply through nitrogen application at 30kgN/ha on non-flooded pasture, feeding supplement or reducing demand by culling known culls, milking once-a-day or grazing-off other stock classes.”

“Farmers should avoid grazing heavy silted pasture as silt can stop rumen function. Dry cows can manage on light silting.

“If silting is less than 50mm deep grass will grow through it. Grass survival with heavier silting will be more variable and grass that has been flattened by silt is best left to rot.

“If you have paddocks still underwater in cool conditions at the end of the week this may mean very little or no pasture production can be expected until after it is regrassed in autumn.”

DairyNZ has heard of a number of Northland maize crops due for harvest that have been flooded.

“We are advising farmers to check with their local harvester to see if heavy equipment can get onto sodden paddocks and whether their crop is harvestable,” says Mr Manjala.

“When maize crops have been flooded above cob level there is a risk of high levels of fusarium fungus contamination of the cob. DairyNZ would advise against feeding silage or grain from these crops. Cut your losses now and seek alternative feed.

“Giving stock access to unharvested crops with a high degree of cobbing can risk acidosis. Don’t let them adlib feed. Use the crop as a small proportion of the total diet.”

TheCattleSite News Desk



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