Dairy Farmers in Florida Prepare for Hurricane Irma
As Hurricane Irma makes its way toward Florida, dairy farmers across the state are preparing to make sure their animals and farms are safe and ready for what’s to come.
Almost all are making sure their generators are up and running so that the milking parlors and essential functions of the operation can continue to operate if power is lost. No matter what the conditions, the cows need to be milked every single day without interruption.
Generator being tested and prepped for Hurricane Irma at Butler Oaks Dairy in Lorida, Florida
“Generators are necessary to milk cows in case of electricity outages. Like many farmers, we test our generator under a load every month, to keep it fresh. We will run all night with the generator under a load, to provide one final test before we fuel it up for Hurricane Irma.” Says Florida dairy farmer Ben Butler.
Butler runs Butler Oaks Dairy Farm in Lorida, Florida with his family and says his farm started hurricane prep early this week. The Butlers are on alert and prepared for Hurricane Irma, after falling victim to the devastation of a similar storm in 2005 which claimed four of their barns and took years to repair.
As the storm gets closer the Butler’s will begin to move the cows from their free-stall barns into the pastures where they are further away from potential flying debris. The Butler’s also plan to house their calves in an enclosed horse barn where they will be safe from the wind and rain.
Tractors at Nickerson Barn III in Wauchula, Florida will be covered and protected.
One county away in Wauchula, everyone at the Nickerson Bar III farm is busy tying down and storing loose objects and parking tractors and large equipment under any cover possible.
The Rucks family, which operates a dairy in nearby Okeechobee, are also preparing for Irma by initiating plans for their animals, employees and their families if the storm hits. Their 1,200-acre property houses a 90+ acre lake with ample room for rising water runoff if the storm dumps large amounts of rain.
The calm before the storm at Milking R Inc. while bringing cows into the parlor to be milked
“Our biggest concern is keeping our employees, their families and our cows as safe as possible. Our farm operates almost 24 hours a day to make sure every cow is milked, fed and tended to. We anticipate and are preparing for hours, if not days, of being very limited on how we operate and care for everyone here at Milking R,” says Kris Rucks who operates Milking R Dairy Inc. with her husband Sutton and their two children.
In the last few days, the Rucks’ have been putting up a new wall to protect the milk tanks and all of the electrical wiring during the storm.
Sutton Rucks of Milking R Inc. working with farm employees to build a wall to protect the milking parlor
Kris stressed that like most dairy farmers in Florida, Milking R will be preparing for the storm up until the very last minute possible, making sure their cows and calf cuties are all safe during the storm.