Wednesday, 23 February 2011 12:15

Floods destroy hay, crops

Written by 
Northern Victorian floods shifted this sausage roll silage and broke it into bits. Northern Victorian floods shifted this sausage roll silage and broke it into bits.

FLOODING ACROSS the country will have a severe impact on hay and silage availability this year.

As sweeping flood waters destroyed large quantities of stored hay and crops, Australian Crop Forecasters (ACF) says two main factors have inhibited hay production this year.

Firstly, the large numbers of paddocks that were cut for hay, but abandoned because of persistent wet weather and then opened up to livestock. Secondly, the hay that was baled – albeit rain damaged – has now been damaged by excessive rain and floodwaters.

ACF managing director Ron Storey says the pressure to supply hay of any quality will be challenging in the coming autumn and winter months.

“Victorian hay stocks are being affected by floods,” Storey says.

“It is conservative to say that square bales stored outside – and typically stacked six high – around one third of these stocks will not be able to be used for livestock consumption.

“There are many cases of whole stacks falling over due to the sagging of bottom bales, causing the whole stack to be lying in water for many days.”

Storey says it is still too early to determine what demand will emanate from Queensland and northern NSW feedlots. Pasture growth, after the floods have receded, will play a crucial role about the amount of cattle on feed over the coming months.

Storey says many dairy farmers are opening up their silage pits and bales to find that the quality is not as expected and protein levels are historically lower.

“With this in mind it may be worthwhile feed testing pit and baled silage to avoid any unnecessary surprises.

“Planning and, if need be, buying now may well pay dividends compared to being exposed to higher prices for high protein hay later on in the autumn when the scramble is on.”

The Queensland floods and their affect on the hay market are still yet to play out, but ACF says much of the south east summer forage crop production will be depleted.

“This can be offset by importing lucerne from South Australia, which has been happening for some months now, and should set to continue with substantial yields from southern lucerne crops.

“Hay production from winter crops and pastures across the majority of the country are in the bale – albeit with extreme variance in quality and nutritional value.

“With high yielding crops along the eastern state there may be a false perception that there is plenty of hay around, but this is not actually the case.

“Hay of any reasonable nutritional value – without weather damage – is in limited supply and producers are happy to store it in shed and see how the autumn and winter hay markets pan out.”

Due to its long growing season, lucerne is becoming a shining light in the hay and dairy industry. While first cuts around the country were generally weather-damaged, subsequent second and third cuts are being produced without damage and good yields.

However, Storey says, with recent flooding many lucerne stands close to northern Victorian river systems will have their production drastically reduced.

More like this

Fencing, fodder cop brunt of Cyclone Debbie

Dairy farmers across New South Wales and Queensland are counting the cost of some of the worst floods on record and industry bodies want to make sure they’re not forgotten in relief efforts.

Pedigree and performance pays

THE foundations of a sustainable dairy enterprise for Darling Downs, Queensland,  farmers Steve and Jenny McCarthy have been built on more than 70 years of improved Jersey genetics.

Huge support for flood fundraiser

SOUTH-WEST Victorian dairy farmer Jessa Fleming has passed the halfway mark in her campaign to raise $30,000 for flood affected Tasmanian farmers.

More from this category

National Foods closes cheese sites

National Foods will sell its cheese processing plants in South Australia and close its two Victorian plants within three years.  The moves were announced as part of a $132 million investment in Tasmania, aimed at rationalising the company’s cheese making business.

NZ payout drop delivers a 'sobering blow'

NEW ZEALAND dairy farmers will be forced to make more hard decisions in the season ahead, as the country’s processors slash their forecast farm gate milk prices to well below the cost of production.

Milk processors want you

International demand and expansion in local processing facilities has fuelled renewed competition between Australian processors for southern milk supply.

Scramble for precious water in WA

SOME 2200 megalitres of water might seem only a drop in the ocean for flood weary farmers in northern and eastern Australia but in the drought-stricken west every bit of a new allocation will be precious.

Progression plan a work in progress

Unfortunately, many families can't broach the topic of succession planning at the kitchen table, so it was refreshing to hear WA farmer Peter Evans discussing his family's approach in front of 200 people.

Floods bring New Year chaos to northern dairy industry

THE QUEENSLAND dairy industry is starting 2011 in chaos, swamped by New Year floods engulfing the State.The big wet which drenched Central Queensland in December moved to the southeast corner of the State with devastating impact in the second week of January.

PRIME MINISTER Julia Gillard is deliberately misleading Australians by claiming she wants to keep the Murray-Darling reform process on time, according to Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Senator Simon Birmingham.


MURRAY GOULBURN has taken up all of its rights in takeover target Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory’s (WCBF) $48 million entitlement offer.


THE HEAD of one of the world’s largest dairy cooperative wants the industry to do more to promote the goodness of dairy.

MURRAY GOULBURN has increased its prices by 35c/kg for protein and 14c/kg for butterfat – or $5.25/kg for milksolids – backdated to July 1.

ALTHOUGH AREAS of northern Victoria may remain under water for months, the amount of damage wreaked by the state’s floods is slowly being assessed.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.\nBasic HTML code is allowed.

» Get social

When butter and chocolate collide

TWO New Zealand companies Lewis Road Creamery and Whittakers have teamed up to deliver what must be every dairy lover’s dream: chocolate butter.

» E-Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required