Farmers rise above floods


It has been a roller coaster ride for Rebecca and Andrew Phillips since they left the New Zealand dairy industry for Australia 11 years ago. During that time they have battled floods, droughts, the Gloabl Financial Crisis and yet they still remain positive about the future of the northern Victorian dairy industry.

“I am not leaving until we get some better years, surely things can only get better?” Andrew said.

While the recent floods were the latest in a long line of things that have gone wrong, The Phillips still remain positive. They are mindful that while flood water covered nearly every inch of their 129 ha property bar the house, dairy and tanker lane, there were others in the area who suffered far worse them.

“We managed to save 22 ha of pasture. The cows are grazing that during the day and they are being lot fed at night. We were about to sow our annuals so we didn’t lose any of them although we did lose 23ha of perennials.”

The Phillips’ continued milking their cows at home throughout the flood event which has really helped with cash flow.

“The cows spent four days on the tanker track and on the dirt of an uncompleted feed pad. We had 70 odd bales of sub hay which got damaged but we were able to stand them on their damaged ends and feed them out. Their diet was pretty ordinary for a few days and of course they dropped in production. It took them a week to respond once they were fed some decent silage and hay.”

Andrew said today the cows are milking really well and he expects to continue lot feeding at night for another month.

“We have resown everything on the farm including our 30ha of dry land. This will be a real advantage in June because over the last few years our dry land hasn’t fired at all.”

The tinge of green now covering the paddocks is welcome sight.

Rebecca and Andrew are part of Murray Dairy’s Focus Farm Project and the help they are receiving from the group is enabling them to continue moving forward. “We have 12 highly skilled people in our group and we have had a lot of support. We have been bouncing ideas off each other and we will continue to follow the plan we made with the group prior to the flood- it will just be a month later.”

“The $25,000 grant will be extremely helpful too. At the beginning of the flood I really thought our throats had been finally cut but the reality is we have had to buy extra months worth of feed. There are others hurt a lot worse than us. “

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