drone shot of farming landscape on a ranch in Australia, of a flooding river.

How To Manage Cattle Through Extreme Flooding

While Australian droughts have affected the ability for cattle farms to remain profitable, nothing creates devastation for farmers quite like flooding. Forceful currents and having areas submerged underwater commonly results in substantial property damage, bearing the ability to bankrupt a farm in a matter of days.

Although property damage remains the biggest item of concern with flooding, there are many adverse effects that floods can have on cattle that do not become apparent until it’s too late. Higher than average rains commonly bring increased pests, diseases and affect the quality of pasture.

There are many intuitive ways that farmers over the years have been able to soften the impacts of natural disaster on their farm. Here are some of the ways Australian farmers can protect their cattle through a second consecutive La Niña season.


Strategic Paddock Rotation

Farms located in hilly areas will be aware that areas at the bottom of valleys are prone to flooding, and areas on high ground provide a safe spot for cattle to be relocated should they need to. Seeing as flooding in Queensland occurs in the wet season, farmers should build their paddock rotation strategy around the topography of their land and the time of the year.

By using the lower ground during the dry season, and the high ground in the wet season, cattle will be better protected through periods of flooding. Strategies that expect a flood to occur, rather than just contingency planning, ensure better use of a farm’s natural land, thereby lowering a farm’s total costs.


Increase Disease Control

Extreme flooding dramatically increases the risk of disease in a herd. Bacteria grows best in wet and warm places, of which a flooded Queensland is both. During a flood, manure combines with feed and clean drinking water, thereby increasing the risk of cattle getting sick. On top of added disease risk, excessively wet diets also raise the risk of foot rot and worms, meaning farmers need to increase their disease and cattle maintenance programs to ensure the herd remains healthy.

To combat these risks, farms should process their cattle for de-worming, and run through a anti-bacterial filled drip to prevent future issues. Cattle yards need to be built to a larger size, to accommodate for the increased number of cattle that need to be processed to successfully manage diseases.


Prioritise Cattle

When contingency planning, it’s important to class your cattle based on breeding and market value. If the impacts of flooding are extreme, selling off cattle quickly will allow farmers to focus on managing property damage and more important cattle easily.

Generally speaking, bulls used for breeding are the most valuable followed by heifers who have unweaned calves, then followed by heifers who are currently carrying calves. Potentially selling off cattle prior to a wet season may help reduce the stress upon farmers.


Invest In Fencing

Farmers who need to move cattle around require fencing to be clearly visible and of sufficient strength to ensure cattle do not run through fences and injure themselves. Through periods of flash flooding, poorly installed fencing is likely to become damaged, therefore lacking the ability to properly hold cattle within the paddock, and assist with moving them between paddocks.

Farmers who manage cattle in areas that are more commonly prone to flooding should invest in higher quality fencing to minimise replacing them from season to season. This will also help cattle to be moved from paddock to paddock while certain parts of the land are underwater or have high currents moving through them.


Feed Quality

During periods of high rainfall and flooding, the pasture on the ground starts to no longer provide the nutrition needed to maintain a healthy diet. Not only does the quality of pasture deteriorate, the dry feed in storage has the potential to become stale due to moisture and brew bacteria. Farmers should build storage that protects feed against the elements and to ensure that bacteria does not grow and harm cattle’s health.


The upcoming second La Niña season bring the risk of floods and extreme weather, it’s important farmers invest their time and energy towards proactively preparing their farm and herd. While floods present an abundance of challenges for Australian farmers, there are many measures farmers can take to protect the profitability of a farm. To find out more about how farmers can invest their money into protecting their cattle through extreme flooding, speak to the team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers today.