Hay, hay it’s here: You can’t feed cattle mud

ABOVE: TCO Industries from Wauchope delivered hay to Casino Food Co-op. Photo: Contributed

Thousands of cattle have been lost in the past week, thousands more are hungry.

The race is now on to save those that survived the flood.

Casino Food Co-op’s livestock manager Heidi Hayes said time was critical.

“These cattle have been in water for days. They’re cold, they’re picking up pneumonia and all sorts of illnesses. It’s quite desperate,” she said.

Ms Hayes said cattle are dying from eating contaminated pasture but fresh fodder will save cattle.

“The mud carries all sorts of bacteria. When the cattle consume that mud, they then get what’s called black scours and animals will simply die from it. It builds a bug in their bellies and it can happen really quickly – within hours.”

Ms Hayes is co-ordinating the Co-op’s fodder program after an overwhelming number of people wanted to donate hay.

“There were trucks turning up in Casino from all over with really nowhere to go. The water was and still is up in some parts and we started taking the trucks in and dispersing it as the water subsided,” she said.

“We’ve had hay from Wauchope, Kempsey, Inverell. We’ve had hay from Beenleigh, Warwick and even local hay from Kyogle and Ewingsdale. There’s close to 2000 bales, plus about 500 small square bales at the moment.”

The Co-op had the room to store the hay and the people to help.

Ms Hayes said anyone is able to access donated hay through the Co-op.

“As our producers or farmers along the North Coast ring up, we simply put them on the list and help them out as quick as we can,” she said.

“We understand that it’s an emergency situation and most people need fodder now as the water recedes. We have trucks on the road 24/7 while ever it’s safe for people to drop hay off,” she says.

It’s not just cattle feed that is in desperate shortfall.

People are now donating feed suitable for horses.

“Fortunately, one of our guys came to the rescue from Queensland last night with small square bales.

“Because until then we only really had silage that was fit for cattle – more so than horses.”

The Co-op will co ordinate the community fodder drive for as long as it takes for producers to restore healthy pastures.

“This is not going to end in the next week or two. Long after the water recedes and people are trying to get back to normal, we are still going to have people feeding cattle.

“We have dairy farmers who are trying to feed 400 to 500 cattle on nothing more than mud at the moment.

“So that’s going to take us into winter – where they will try and get some oats or ryegrass in and then start to feed that out.”

And the Co-op can organise delivery of fodder or it can be picked up from Casino.

Ms Hayes says if anyone wants to donate fodder, they should contact her on 0429 640 047.

Loading hay at the Casino Food Co-op.

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