Northland dairy farmer Geoff Crawford has had to send 400 cows away after widespread flooding destroyed feed and other essentials, making it impossible to look after them.
Crawford is one of the dairy farmers in Hikurangi Swamp, just north of Whangārei, who are among the worst hit from a once in a 500-year storm that wreaked havoc across Northland. He said the swamp received 400mm of rain in eight hours or 580mm in two days.
The deluge was a double whammy for dairy farmers still recovering from a prolonged drought that exacerbated a shortage of feed and water.
The MetService said the worst of the rain was over and a moving front today would bring showers and possible thunderstorm which should ease away from Thursday.
Whangārei received 156mm of rain between 6pm and 10pm on Friday- the most of all centres around Northland.
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Crawford sent 200 of his 1100 cows to Kaitaia, and the rest to Tomarata, Bayley's Beach, and to Pukekohe.
"These weather events are brutal. A drought is like a cancer that slowly eats away while a flood is like a heart attack that turns up unexpected."
With 400 cows away until grass germinated towards the end of September, Crawford said he was losing $5000 a day in income. He still has 600 spring cows calving.
Crawford spent $100,000 re-growing grass during drought and a further $50,000 on fertiliser last week before the rain came.
Forty of his 400 cows went to Taipa dairy farmer Dave Jurlina who was among about a dozen farmers that had to dump milk as floodwaters made it impassable for Fonterra trucks to collect them.
He dumped about 10,000 litres of milk and gave an additional 10,000 litres to his neighbours over the weekend, although flooding in his area wasn't as bad as in Whangārei. The 20,000 litres of milk was worth between $10,000 and $12,000.
Jurlina milks 550 cows and said it was the second or third time milk could not be collected from his farm due to unforeseen circumstances.
Fonterra regional head in Northland, Mike Borrie, said about a dozen farms were completely cut off and that affected farmers would be compensated.
From Friday night to Saturday evening, he said Fonterra tankers undertook 560 collections from farms across Northland.
"With the amount of flooding and number of road closures, milk collection has been disrupted but our tanker transport team has worked hard to keep that to a minimum."
Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said there was only a limited amount of feed available in worst affected areas like the Hikurangi Swamp.
"That place could still be under water this week so a lot of feed on paddocks will be dead because they can only be under water for three days maximum.
"But in other areas, it wasn't a huge flood because a lot of places got under 100mm of rain. We needed rain for our dams to fill up, for the grass to grow which is happening, and it's warm," he said.