News / Blog

South Australian Blackouts Leave Dairy Cows Unmilked
July 13, 2016

Wild weather across South Australia means thousands of homes have been without power, including dairy farmers who rely on electricity to milk their cows.

Australian Dairy Farmers acting president David Basham estimated up to 10,000 dairy cows in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula could have been caught up in South Australia’s wild weather.

Mount Compass dairy farmer Perrin Hicks worked with SA Power Networks through the night on Monday to get power back to his farm.

“There’s powerlines down and trees in the way and trucks bogged, and they’ve been working pretty hard to try and get some power back. They helped me out last night,” Mr Hicks said.

“They dropped around a generator and got the dairy going, so I managed to milk the cows finally at one o’clock this morning.

“Some of the cows had been 36 hours without being milked, which is probably pushing their udders.”

When cows are not milked their udders can stretch, which can stress the cows, and they are more susceptible to health problems such as mastitis.

“I think you’ll find if you ask most dairy farmers, they love their cows, and you could ask my wife — she hadn’t seen me that stressed out ever, I don’t think,” Mr Hicks said.

Blackouts unusual in region

Mount Compass farmer Michael Connor milks 600 cows over two farms and has freshly calved cows on his farm at the moment.

“They really like their routine and they get a bit tired in the udder, so we were shifting them around the farm while we were trying to get a generator organised,” Mr Connor said.

He said generators helped get him through the blackout, but given blackouts were fairly unusual, it did not make financial sense to have one on standby.

“They cost a fortune to buy. A dairy of our size, you wouldn’t set it up for under $35,000 with second-hand gear, and you might use it once every two years,” Mr Connor said.

Source – ABC Rural



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