Livestock in their hundreds have had to swim to safety or perish throughout the NSW Northern Rivers this week but despite the awful images coming out of the record 2022 flood on the Richmond River, there are some rays of hope.
At Tuncester, near Lismore, NSW, dairy farmer Paul Weir has been overwhelmed by the generosity of neighbour and complete strangers in helping the family get back to milking.
When the floodwater rose early Monday half the family’s Holstein herd swam for their lives, despite standing in the dairy, built above record flood levels. About 150 head remained in the yard and stoically survived the deluge.
In the days since, as murky waters receded, the Weir family have retrieved about two-thirds of their original herd, and thanks to generous offer of agistment from fellow Norco director Greg McNamara at Goolmangar they are able to be milked, while livestock carrier Alan Maloney organised transport with Armfields to deliver the sodden stock to safer country.
Meanwhile offers of hay from Northern Victoria are being delivered while other offers of agistment in Queensland have been made.
“It puts faith back into mankind,” Mr Weir said. “In fact, it kind of overwhelms me. I’m not an emotional person but lately when someone says something nice or texts me a message of support … that’s the end of me.”
Norco Rural field services consultant Bruce Lyle set up a “Livestock and items lost and found” page on Facebook at the start of the floods and the site now has nearly 1000 members communicating lost livestock and found, not drowned, mostly cattle that have swum dozens of kilometres down the Richmond River.
“I was flooded at home but I was getting distressed calls from customers. I was limited to what I could do. I couldn’t be out there physically so how else to get the message out there but on social media.”
Local Lands Services has organised good quality hay – Rhodes grass, oats and Lucerne – is coming from all over eastern Australia to the Primes expo site at Casino, where round and square bales are being distributed to needy livestock owners. The phone number to call for assistance is 1 800 814 647.
“Flood affected livestock need quality feed – protein and energy Mr Lyle said.
Also on the Casino site is a mobile vet clinic free of charge for domestic animals, sponsored by the Animal Welfare League of NSW.
The next step for flood affected livestock owners is to think about destocking part or all of the farm to allow saturated paddocks to return with minimal disruption. Mr Lyle said he had been contacted by very agent in Casino saying they had access to agistment in the west at reasonable rates – $4 – $8 a week per head and stock owners are encouraged to contact their local agent
At the same time livestock need vaccinations and drench to be up-to-date against liver fluke and worms, while the threat of pneumonia is very real. Livestock owners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian if they need guidance.
Source: Farm Online Australia