A Murwillumbah dairy farmer has shed tears over losing some of his prized dairy herd in last week’s floods in New South Wales. By Bronwyn Herbert
Veteran farmer Pat McDonald, from Kenarie Jersey Stud, is devastated to have lost 18 young pregnant heifers in floodwater.
Milk production has halved and animals are getting sick.
“We are starting to get mastitis. We have three cows with footrot and a lot of cows are foot sore,” Mr McDonald said.
The McDonalds’ milking shed and pasture paddocks were flooded late on Thursday.
“Our equipment was all under water, our motors, our pumps, every one one of them. We got them working temporarily, but have only been informed this morning that they will eventually fail,” Mr McDonald said.
“All that equipment will have to be replaced.”
Mr McDonald, 83, has spent his whole life on the land and said this flood had been a record-breaker.
“I think it’s worse than 1954. Here at our place we are about a metre higher than the previous record, and that’s a heck of a lot of water,” he said.
“The other thing was that it came so fast and there was so much flow in the water, something we have never experienced before.”
Dairy farmers in the district are frustrated that not enough notice was given to the quickly rising floodwater in the Tweed River system.
“I’ve had experience all my life with floods, shifting cattle out of floods all my life,” Mr McDonald said.
“This year we have been caught all because of insufficient knowledge, and it’s not just my story. Everyone else around the place can tell you this same story.”
The farmer is concerned there is too much reliance on providing information via the internet, which not everyone could access reliably.
“We don’t have enough information about the river heights upstream, so we can defend ourselves and our livelihoods,” he said.
With sodden dairy pastures a health risk for his herd, Mr McDonald has had to truck most of his herd away for agistment.
“Production will be slashed and we virtually don’t have any feed, just flooded pasture,” he said.
“The whole thing is not good at all.”