NSW LLS figures for requests for Northern Rivers' flood help as of Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Cattle and horses who survived the great flood on the Northern Rivers continue to climb out of cane country, forestry, and strange paddocks more than two weeks after the event. While the number of drowned stock remains unknown it will be excessive.
"We've located hundreds of cattle, finding them in paddocks where there were no cattle before," said Lismore agent Mitch Dundas, from Glenn Weir and Son.
One mob of 40 was discovered grazing between rows of tea tree at Loftville near the Lismore Airport. Other stock had sum 40km or more from their home farm.
"We would find cattle across the river from a farm that lost stock, thinking they were the missing numbers but when we scanned their tags we were surprised to find they had swum from way up river," Mr Dundas said. "Some made it. Some didn't," he said.
The best find was 35 cows with calves returned to their farm from a mob of 52 head missing but even discoveries of three and four head were regarded as a win. "It is amazing to make that phone call and tell someone who has lost 50, 60, maybe 80 head of cattle that we found one and that brings a tear to their eye. One is better than none."
Meanwhile, surviving cattle bunched up in small refuge paddocks now rely on fodder to carry on and Local Land Services have been on the ground from the start, deploying an allocation of three days worth of hay per head from when farmers register their need. Offers of free temporary agistment continue to pour in but it is the donations of hay from western farmers that have really touched a nerve.
Norco field representative and Angus breeder Bruce Lyle, Ellangowan said more than 30 semi-trailer loads of hay had arrived at Casino and more had been delivered direct to farms, often repaying kindness shown by coastal produces to the west during drought.
Meanwhile kilometres of fencing have been washed away or at least laid flat while equipment including drowned tractors parked on the assumed safety of flood mounds, along with damage to sheds and irrigation equipment will take its toll on profitable agriculture.
Other primary industries affected include the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative which experienced extensive damage to mills at Condong on the Tweed and Broadwater on the Richmond while at Harwood 3000 tonnes of raw sugar has been condemned. CEO Chris Connors says he is hopeful there won't be too much delay in starting the cane crush at the end of June.
Tea tree crops stuck under water for days are black and young macadamia trees recently planted on the floodplain show only brown leaves, so there remains much assessment of actual damage.
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