News & Advice

Extensive waterlogging and flooding on farm – animal health focus

May 8, 2017 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Farm systems

It’s been a very wet April for everyone as the tail end of cyclones Debbie and Cook hit the area with most farms waterlogged, and some affected by flooding.
Support has been and is available from many groups including the Rural Support Trust, DairyNZ, Dairy Companies, Federated Farmers, Councils and MPI. At the bottom of this article is a link to Dairy NZ’s decision tree for flood damaged farms and phone numbers that may be of help. 

Taking an Animal Health Focus 

  • Safety – for yourselves and stock takes first priority. 
  • Clean water – make sure stock have a clean water source, and fence off waterlogged areas in paddocks to prevent stock drinking contaminated water. Water troughs can be contaminated so may need cleaning. 
  • Large ingestions of silt from contaminated water or off pastures can irritate the rumen and clog up in the stomachs, causing issues with the digestive system. Look out for loss of appetite or scouring. 
  • Disease spread – the risk of bacterial disease, such as caused by salmonella or E.coli, is far greater during wet periods. Keep an eye out for sudden onset sickness or scouring. Other diseases like black leg can also flare up due to excessive soil pugging allowing access to spores. Changes may need to be made to your vaccination program if the risk is high. 
  • Dry cow management – with flooding and waterlogged soils, environmental challenge to cows during the autumn/winter will be far greater. If you are taking cows off farm they will face different challenges. This may change the recommendations discussed at your milk quality consult and you may need to consider including internal teat sealant at dry off to prevent new infections and high mastitis rates during the winter and spring. 
  • Feed supply – feed budgets are being re-calculated on many farms, adjusting for reduced areas available and reduced growth rates through the autumn/winter. This has necessitated changes varying from round length extension to earlier drying off and culling and taking stock off farm. Talk to one of our trained consultants to go through a feed budget if you need assistance 
  • Body Condition Score (BCS) targets – feed value is likely to be reduced and/or intakes reduced due to palatability of feed. Be realistic with dry off times required to achieve BCS targets at calving. Assessing your herd BSC now is important and will give you a benchmark to what is needed from now on. Talk to one of our Vets to BCS your herd and create a plan going forward. 
  • Replacements – consider delaying, if possible, R2 heifers returning from grazing for a few weeks to reduce pressure on farm. 
  • Abrupt changes of feed should be avoided – for example some farms stopped feeding fodder beat during the wet. If the crop is salvageable, be aware that cows will need to be re-transitioned back on to the crop in order to prevent acidosis. 

For further information or advice on feed budgets, please talk with your lead Anexa Vet, we’re here to help.

Helpful information 
For the DairyNZ Decision Tree for Flood damaged Farms visit:
0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Call Federated Farmers’ helpline on 0800 327 646 option 3 for feed offers or requests, or option 4 for other on-farm help, including stock movements

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