Shoalhaven dairy herds suffer in weekend’s heat and humidity

DISTRESSING LOSSES: Shoalhaven dairy farmers have suffered in the recent hot weather with close to 40 cows dying.  File photo - Getty Images

DISTRESSING LOSSES: Shoalhaven dairy farmers have suffered in the recent hot weather with close to 40 cows dying. File photo - Getty Images

Up to 40 valuable dairy cows died during last week’s heatwave.

Animal deaths were reported on at least five local farms, with the heat and high humidity taking its toll on dairy herds.

It is understood at least two farms each suffered 15 or more deaths.

One farmer, who didn’t wish to be named, said the deaths were “heartbreaking”.

“You do everything you can for your animals to ensure they are as comfortable as they can be in that heat,” he said.

“Of course we do and did everything we could for them. They make us our livelihoods but they are our animals. You have a connection with them.

“This is just gutting.”

“Any loss is tragic,” another said, “let alone in these circumstances.”

Another farmer reported to have lost three per cent of his milking herd.

“Friday and Saturday were both extremely hot but Thursday was probably the worst day with the humidity,” he said.

“Saturday was bad as well and the humidity was high.

“Saturday reached 40 degrees but the humidity was 50 per cent. A nearby property topped 45 degrees.

“Friday was a dry heat - the cows can handle the heat but that, combined with the humidity, really knocks them around.”

Despite receiving 17.4 millimetres of rain on Thursday the warm weather rolled in.

From an overnight low of 19.1 degrees at 4.20am the temperature rose to 34.2 at 2.40pm and stayed in the 30s until 6.50pm, remaining in the mid to low 20s until midnight.

Up until 8am the humidity was 100 per cent and stayed in the 80s and 90s until 8.50am. The lowest point was 39 per cent at 2.30pm but by 8.50pm it was back up to 80 per cent, into the 90s by 10pm and 100 per cent by 11.10pm.

Friday in Nowra hit a record high of 42.6, eclipsing the previous best of 40.5 on February 1, 2011.

From an overnight low of 24.1, by 9am the temperature had hit 30 degrees; 40 degrees by 12.50pm and 42.6 at 2.50pm.

The first time humidity dropped below 50 per cent on Friday was 8.40am. It remained below that level until 3.47pm when it started to rise again settling in the 70s and 80s before hitting the 90s at 8.40pm where it remained for the remainder of the evening.

Saturday reached a top temperature of 38.4 degrees at 3.40pm.

After an overnight low of 21.4, by 10am the mercury hit 30 and stayed in the mid to high 30s until 5.30pm when the southerly hit.

Although it didn’t reach the 41 degree mark as predicted, between 12.40pm and 4.30pm Weatherzone said the temperature felt like between  40 and 45 degrees.

The humidity from midnight through to to 5.40am was 100 per cent, it dropped to mid 90s by 6.20am and to the mid 30s around 3.30pm. It again ramped up to 80 per cent 7.10pm before hitting the 90s again by 10.20pm and by 10.26pm was back at 100 per cent humidity.

While Sunday was cooler, hitting a high of just 23 degrees, the humidity remained at 100 per cent until 8.10am and hovered in the 80s and 90s until 2.20pm. Despite  a couple of short lived drops it remained in the 80 to 100 per cent range until 9pm.

While the area hit some high temperatures over the past week it still hasn’t surpassed the hottest day to date this year, which was 43.2 on January 30.

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