Gippsland dairy herds face feet issues due to floods

Flooding sees Gippsland dairy herds dried early following sore feet

Dairy
DECISIONS: Glengarry's Carlene Farmer has made the decision to dry her dairy herd early after the cattle suffered sore feet from the waterlogged ground. Photo by Bryce Eishold.

DECISIONS: Glengarry's Carlene Farmer has made the decision to dry her dairy herd early after the cattle suffered sore feet from the waterlogged ground. Photo by Bryce Eishold.

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Waterlogged ground is having an impact on dairy herds.

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Gippsland dairy farmers impacted by flooding last month have reported sore feet in their cattle, with many deciding to dry their herds early.

Carlene Farmer, Glengarry, Vic, said when the Latrobe River flooded following heavy rains, some of her low-lying land had stayed underwater for weeks.

Managing the cattle's feet was an ongoing issue that needed attention every year, she said, but this winter the problem was compounded because of the waterlogged ground.

"I think a lot of people are in the same situation," she said.

"For us we would have just kept milking through but their feet are sore and we've lost all that extra feed in the river country."

Ms Farmer said she lost a large amount of feed in the recent floods.

"It's a big chunk of our feed gone," she said.

"We start calving in August so we need to have feed reserved for the cows that go into calf.

"It's a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain.

"The bit we'll lose at the moment we'll pick up because we'll have feed ahead for when the cows do calve."

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CB Livestock agent Colleen Bye, who is also a dairy farmer, said feet problems were more widespread than in other years.

Ms Bye said if tracks on the farm were clay-based then any stones would rise to the surface and could damage hooves that were already softened.

The bigger dairy farms also had cows walking longer distances each day.

She had also noticed more people deciding to sell cattle early rather than drying them out first.

Rabobank analyst Michael Harvey was aware of some farmers drying cows earlier.

Mr Harvey said the seasonal curve would come to a close faster in areas that were affected by floods.

He said it was another factor that was limiting growth despite good conditions, such as record milk prices and some farms experiencing up to three good seasons in a row.

"Outside of the areas that have been impacted by flooding and everything else, there's good profitability and farmers are making good margins, but there's not that strong production growth," he said.

Other areas were still recovering from bushfires in previous years, he said, and labour shortages remained an ongoing concern.

In some cases, he said worker shortages were preventing farmers from expanding their operations over concerns they may not be able to find staff.

Dairy Australia's Situation and Outlook Report, which was released last week, found the initial milk production forecast for 2021/22 suggested there would be a 0-2 per cent growth of the national milk pool.

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The story Gippsland dairy herds face feet issues due to floods first appeared on Stock & Land.

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