Farm advice: Preparation key for Moving Day

Make moving farms hassle-free with these tips from DairyNZ

It’s hard to believe we’re already in April, and that means Moving Day is fast approaching.
I’m sure many of you are busy preparing to move yourself, your family, belongings and/or stock to new farms for the 2019–20 season.

Transporting stock

I can only imagine how challenging this must be. I found it hard enough when my partner and I moved last season to a farm 20 minutes down the road and that didn’t involve shifting pets, kids, or hundreds of cows.

Some of you are probably veterans by now and have moving down to a fine art. But for others, particularly those with children, moving can be extremely stressful.

It’s never easy uprooting your life and starting from scratch in a new town or region. So, what can make the shift easier? I know from talking to many of you that the main thing that can help make the move go as smoothly as possible is being prepared.

But I’m sure this is easier said than done when juggling work, family, and other commitments. So I asked a farming couple who have ‘been there, done that’ for their advice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Canterbury herd owning sharemilkers Hamish and Katie Flett are no strangers to Moving Day. The couple, like many others, have moved to new farms as they’ve progressed through the sector.

Their last trip, four years ago, was the most significant, when they shifted their young family, 600 cows, and machinery from the Waikato. Hamish says they were fortunate to have close friends offer to help them move, which took a huge weight off their shoulders.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And if you’ve got friends offering to help, take them up on it. We had really good friends who helped us move and it made it so much easier.

A friend came around and measured everything we were going to move to make sure it was going to fit in the container. Little things like that make a big difference,” he says.

The couple also called on their family to support them during the move and take care of their children for a few days to help take the pressure off and allow them to focus on what needed to be done.

Hamish says they found packing up the house relatively easy; the real challenge was shifting the cows. “As farmers, we’re always trying to do the best by our stock, so getting the cows dried-off, prepared, and the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) records up to date required a lot of planning.”

Hamish says farmers now need to be extra vigilant when moving cows given Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis). He recommends they make sure they’re familiar with all regulations and communicate with neighbouring farms if moving cows on the road.

He recommends farmers “don’t leave things to the last minute”. “It’s never too early to start planning,” he says. Hamish also recommends people clarify with the farm owners or operations manager what they are required to do before leaving the property.

“If people’s expectations are different, that’s where conflict can happen. If you’re unsure about anything ask so you’re clear what the objective is. As sharemilkers, our reputation is the most important thing we’ve got, so it’s important to leave on good terms.”

Katie says employers can help staff feel welcome, and settle in to their new community, by providing a list of key services, such as local GP and schools, and cooked dinners for the first few days.

Focus on biosecurity

For those of you shifting cows, it’s important to keep biosecurity front of mind to reduce the risk of exposure to M. bovis and other diseases, weeds, and pests. First and foremost, it’s crucial that NAIT records are kept up to date to track all animal movements.

As many of you know, M. bovis is mainly spread through close physical contact between cows, so the best way you can keep them safe is to ensure your stock don’t come into contact with other herds.

This will hinge on having clear communication between your grazier, the transport company, and neighbours. Machinery and equipment also pose a biosecurity risk, as they can carry pests and weeds, so it’s important to ensure they are as clean as possible before moving onto a new farm.

To avoid overlooking anything, I recommend using the Biosecurity WOF, a useful step-by-step checklist, which outlines ways you can reduce the risk of diseases, weeds, or pests entering, spreading, or leaving your farm. This is available on the DairyNZ website. 

For more information on transporting cows this Moving Day, visit dairynz.co.nz/transportingstock.

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