The Coffs Coast Advocate

Moo-hoo, my hoof hurts

TWEED'S long spate of wet weather has not only been getting people down.

It has been a real pain for the region's dairy cows, some of which have been getting sore feet from the soft, muddy ground.

Murwillumbah dairy farmers like Corey Crosthwaite have kept their cows contented despite the wet, simply by not rushing them or making them walk too far too fast.

Even so they now face another problem if predicted wet weather continues.

The grass has gone sour and has little nutrition due to the lack of sunshine.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has taken the unusual step of warning the region's dairy farmers to go easy on their cows to avoid lameness and lost milk production.

Yesterday, as some sun finally broke through, Mr Crosthwaite said he was waiting for more sunny days but making sure not to push his cows along too fast in the wet.

“We never hurry them any way,” he said, adding the current wet conditions slowed him slightly as well because “you don't go out without your gum boots”.

“The grass has also gone sour with a lot of mud over it, so it would be good to see some sunshine.”

The wet, he said, was not just affecting the cows but also his schedule for planting ryegrass needed for winter feed.

“We can't get onto the paddocks with the tractor because it's too wet,” he said.

Chairman of the Tweed Combined Rural Industries Association, grazier Col Brooks warned farmers had had “more than enough rain”.

“We only need a deluge for a couple of hours now and we will have a flood,” Mr Brooks said. “The paddocks are a bog-hole. Even though we have plenty of grass, with no sunshine at this time of year it just turns sour.

“It loses all its goodness. It's 98 per cent water. The cattle will start to lose condition.

NSW Department of Primary Industries regional veterinarian Paul Freeman has warned farmers during the continued wet weather that it is “important to go easy on cattle and not push them to walk too far and too quickly over rough ground”.

“Foot lameness can result after wet weather when the cattle's feet become soft and sensitive,” Mr Freeman said.

“Tracks can become harsh if stones are exposed due to erosion, and if cattle are pushed to walk quickly over rough ground their feet can suffer damage.

“Now is the time to move cattle calmly and not push them too quickly with dogs or a quad bike. Lameness can cost $500 a cow in lost production and treatment, so the answer is to get in early and reduce the risk of it happening.”

Mr Freeman said farmers should remove “restrictions to cow flow - making sure they don't stop but maintain a steady, calm pace to and from the milking shed”.

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