Rayner Reckons

Sep 22

Management after a flood

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016

I reckon its been a long time since anyone has seen a September as wet as the one we are currently experiencing.  The systems that have bought so much rain to eastern Australia have been pretty consistent, an I don’t think there is a catchment anywhere in NSW, Victoria or even in southern South Australia that isn’t completely saturated.

For many of my clients, the amount of rain has exceeded the beneficial and has moved towards frustrating or even damaging.  In the north west there are water logged crops, or crops now suffering from disease as a result of the soaking and water laying across paddocks.  And just accessing paddocks is proving to be more of a challenge every day! 

The wet conditions, including water logging and the flooding that is being experienced also holds some threats to livestock producers.  There are some threats that are quite obvious.

Floods are extremely destructive.  Livestock are at particular risk of drowning in floods.  While cattle can swim, this doesn’t help them to avoid being trapped on fences, against trees or other obstructions.  Fast flowing and rapidly rising floods are the greatest risks for cattle and sheep.

Its essential to keep your stock on higher ground when the risk of floods has been raised.  With the catchments so saturated now, flood waters are rising much more swiftly that you may be used to, so don’t get complacent and leave your preparations to the last minute.  I reckon the other thing to consider is the speed of water coming down the waterways. 

With everything so wet, it doesn’t take much to run, and the flooding that is occurring now is happening faster and I think in some cases with more force.  Again it’s important not to be complacent and leave things until the last moment.

Floods are responsible for the introduction of new risks to your property. Gullies that can become eroded may reveal old waste dumps.  Quite a few old rubbish pits have become exposed after flooding.  This has led to cattle accessing old tins, and worse old leaking batteries.  In some cases the owners had no idea these sites existed.  So when you can get out and about to check for damage, that’s a risk to bear in mind.

Of course the other risk is the introduction of new weeds being washed downstream.  But don’t forget other pollutants like drums or tins that could pose a risk to curious cattle.  If you can go, around areas that had been flooded and make sure that debris are not likely to cause a risk to stock.  Of course, wait until its safe to do so!

Flooding can result in the displacement of stock.  Cattle do get washed or swim downstream.  When its safe and practical, you should muster those cattle and try and keep them separate to yours.  Displaced stock does pose a risk of spreading disease, and if you don’t know their history you shouldn’t take any risks.

Even though everything is saturated now, its important to make sure your stock can still access good quality drinking water.  Flood water isn’t a good source of water, and often stock won’t drink it anyway.  Remember you don’t know what’s in the water, so its best to try and make sure they drink from troughs.

If you have always relied on dams, its worth keeping an eye on the dam water.  The run into the dam will bring silt, mud, weeds, dung and other debris.  This could lead to water quality issues or algal build up. 

Standing in water can lead to foot problems, such as soft hooves and lameness.  You need to keep and eye out for this, and if possible move stock away to firmer and drier ground.  Significant issues can arise and you may need to get a vet to have a look and discuss treatment.

Finally stagnant water is the perfect home for insects. We are probably going to see a lot of insects in the next few months.  These biting, sucking and just annoying insects will also be responsible for spreading disease and irritating stock.  Flies will be a problem for sheep producers as well.

Its not going to hurt to ensure your vaccinations are fully boosted.  The wet weather and foods do pose a risk, but if you do manage your conditions, you can minimize the impact on livestock.  The NSW DPI also has a very good prime note that’s worth a read.

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