By Michael Giles
IT’S been a tough 36 hours for the local region’s dairy farmers due to the widespread, long-term nature of the power outage as a result of Wednesday night’s horrific storm.
Some, unfortunately, have still not milked their cows either waiting for the power to come back on or for a shared generator to arrive.
Region 6 Policy Officer for the United Dairy Farmers of Victoria, Ben Vagg, said it was unfortunate, but thousands of litres of milk would have been lost across the region as a result.
“Some people, who have had autumn calvers or who might have calved recently may have the situation where this affects the entire lactation of individual cows. They’ll have to wait and see.
“Our power it still off here at Leongatha South (back on at 2.30pm Friday) but we’ve got a generator and Saputo has been out to pick up our milk.
“They were a bit later than usual but they’ve been terrific,” he said.
Adam and Annette Eldridge of Ventnor on Phillip Island missed two milkings with a recently calved herd and only just finished milking 200 cows at 1.30pm on Friday afternoon.
“We were lucky enough to get in a morning milking on Thursday when the power came back on briefly, but we missed the night milking and the power was still off this morning (Friday).
“The shed is set up for generators and Annette was away picking up a generator that a friend was going to lend us when the power came back on. We’ve just washed up now,” said Adam at 1.30pm on Friday.
“Hopefully, it won’t affect them (the volume produced through the whole lactation) but we’ve only just calved them, down because it suits us better on the Island and they were just starting to hit their peak.
“But they were all full of milk and it was coming out of them as they came into the shed. They were pretty relieved to get milked and so were we,” said Adam.
The couple had no problem with their pickup by Saputo either, although there had been reports of pickup delays on some runs as the factories dealt with power outages impacting manufacturing.
“No, we had no problem here. They picked us up yesterday and the milk was still at the regulation 4 degrees which was good.”
The cold weather was at least good for something.
“Hopefully, the power stays on now and we can get back into it.”
Ben Vagg was keeping in touch with farmers in his area and while there had been some frantic efforts to share generators around, and two to three milkings missed in many cases, most if not all farmers around him had been able to milk their cows.
“Unfortunately, there would have to have been a lot of milk tipped out in the past day or so, which is disappointing.
“But there’s still plenty of areas where the power isn’t back on yet, so it’s been a serious incident, for sure.”
Onfarm consultant Matt Harms said areas at Loch and Outtrim were still without power and he was aware of numerous farmers who had missed two and three milkings.
“I have heard the companies didn’t have enough trucks to hold and pick up the milk while they dealt with their own power issues. So that was another one.
“There are quite a few people thinking about buying a generator now for these sorts of occasions,” Mr Harms said.