Emergency semen supplies flown to flood-affected South Island farmers

Emergency semen supplies have been flown in for flood-hit South Island dairy farmers as roading damage disrupts deliveries during a critical time in the farming calendar.

Farmers in south Canterbury and parts of the West Coast have been hit hard by the flood event, with damage also sustained to key roads and highways.

The floods have hit during the critical spring mating period for most dairy farms and the disruption meant it had been difficult for some farmers to get their cows in calf.

Agritech and herd improvement co-operative LIC has been using small planes and helicopters to make sure semen straws were still delivered to farmers on time. 

National artificial breeding manager David Hale said it was important semen was delivered to all farms on schedule, regardless of weather conditions. 

"The dairy cow cycle takes roughly between 18-24 days. If insemination doesn't occur at the right time during that cycle, it means a three-week wait until the cow is in heat again. 

LIC deliveries of bull semen are being flown into farmers cut off by severe flooding over the weekend in Canterbury.
LIC deliveries of bull semen are being flown into farmers cut off by severe flooding over the weekend in Canterbury. Photo credit: Supplied

"This three-week loss can have a number of negative flow-on effects for farmers, including the potential loss of three weeks' worth of milk supply and an impact on calving periods the following year," he said.

A Cessna plane was used by LIC to successfully deliver around 3300 straws of semen between Timaru and Ashburton. 

An additional 500 semen straws were delivered via helicopter to affected farms on the West Coast.

The helicopter delivery also included consumables needed by AB technicians to be able to do their jobs.

A chopper touches down with semen supplies in the flood-affected area
A chopper touches down with semen supplies in the flood-affected area Photo credit: Supplied

In a few cases, LIC's AB technicians have been able to access cut-off farms via tractor.

LIC took a similar approach during the Kaikoura earthquake, with semen straws successfully flown to affected farms.

It said it would continue to deliver to flood-affected farms, unless it was too dangerous to do so.

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