Florida dairy farms had to make adjustments and preparations long before Hurricane Irma arrived. Ben Butler with Butler Oaks Farms near Lorida, Florida tells Brownfield that feeding nearly 1,000 milk cows plus replacement heifers was a challenge before Irma even arrived because trains and trucks were not bringing corn into Florida. By: Larry Lee
“We had to make some ration changes and cut our corn back 25%, and add in citrus pulp to kind of get us through here for about a week, so hopefully after the storm passes, we’ll be able to get the infrastructure back up and going and get corn tanks full and get back to grinding corn.”
He says that corn shortage is affecting ten other co-op members and more than 20-thousand dairy cows.
Irma is not Butler’s first hurricane. He tells Brownfield they endured hurricanes Francis and Jean in 2004, and after the cleanup, some facilities were rebuilt better than before. “We put in two new freestall barns, 480 cow barns. We engineered them with some additional strength with hurricanes in mind. We don’t have an official rating on them, but with all of the additional strength, we feel like we’ve got 150 mile an hour barns.”
Butler says they boarded up buildings, tested generators, and did what they could to ride the storm out.
He expects all of Florida’s milk processors will have to suspend operations during the storm, and haulers will be sidelined with winds over 45 miles per hour. Butler expects he’ll be forced to dump a load of milk before everything is back to normal.
Source: Brownfield Ag News