Floods or No Floods, Stork Still Delivering

by 5m Editor
12 January 2011, at 10:12am

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - Recent floods in Queensland have caused, and are still causing, extreme destruction and damage, the cost of which is yet to be fully calculated.

Ian Hill of Bailey Creek Piggeries receives a vital semen delivery, despite flood waters surrounding his operation at Mulgildie.

A Pork Storks Australia vehicle unable to cross an extremely flooded creek to reach an operation at Kallindale. When road crossings no longer became possible, semen was flown in by helicopter or light plan.

An aerial view of the extent of flooding in Queensland. This explains why Pork Storks Australia decided to fly semen into isolated piggeries to ensure breeding programs could continue as usual.

With towns still cut off, many industries adversely effected and workers stood down across the state, one company is pulling out all stops to make sure its customers are getting vital product - to ensure continuity of supply, maintain morale, and keep one of the country’s most important rural industries viable, now and when the flood waters recede.

These flood waters, which currently cover an area greater than the size of Germany and France, have resulted in many of Australia's largest piggeries being isolated. This has meant that they have been unable to receive - by conventional means at least - any semen for sows ready to be mated.

Pork Storks Australia is the largest supplier of semen to the Australian pig industry. With a bit of ingenious problem solving and an overwhelming effort from staff, they have continued to deliver their product to piggeries isolated by flood waters.

Established in 2004, Pork Storks Australia operates the largest and newest state-of-the-art boar semen collection and processing facilities in Australia on behalf on leading genetics company PIC Australia. Supplying to the majority of piggeries on the east coast of Australia, semen is usually delivered direct to farms via a network of Pork Stork Australia semen delivery vehicles that each travel up to 4000km a week.

While deliveries were initially made with vehicles crossing flooded roads and bridges, safety issues meant that this had to cease. Pork Storks Australia then decided they needed to take an even more pro-active approach, and therefore secured the use of a helicopter and light plane to get semen to these isolated piggeries.

Dr Chris Richards is the Managing Director of Pork Storks Australia. He said, "Pork Storks Australia recognises the importance of throughput in driving profitability in a piggery and the consequences of having sows ready to mate and no semen available. That’s why we decided to think outside the box to ensure a continuity of supply for our valued customers."

Bridget Jervois, Operations Manager at Pork Storks Australia explained further. She said, “We wanted to act early to acquire helicopters to ensure that customers' mating programs were minimally disrupted. That said, there were and continue to be several difficulties to overcome as part of our plan, including extreme weather conditions from a tropical cyclone, a couple of forced landings and the limited availability of aircraft in light of evacuations of entire towns.“

“I’m proud to say the Pork Storks Australia production and logistics teams worked tirelessly during the Christmas and New Year periods to ensure that semen was delivered, whether by vehicle, helicopter or plane,“ Ms Jervois said.

“The team also coordinated the delivery of semen to regional landing sites, where customers came to collect their semen. What’s more, Pork Storks Australia also used their helicopter to deliver emergency veterinary supplies to these isolated piggeries,“ she continued.

Ian Hill, of Bailey Creek Piggeries at Mulgildie could not have been more relieved or happy to receive semen deliveries despite the flood conditions. He said, “We’ve always had a good relationship with Pork Storks Australia, but they’ve recently gone above and beyond the call of duty to get semen to us. All aspects of our operation -including our bottom line - will be less affected by the floods because of this.“

In conclusion, Dr Richards said, "Pork Storks Australia commends the initiative, ingenuity and effort of our management, production and logistics teams in achieving the near impossible task of getting semen to our customers. Natural disasters are a fact of life in Australia, but we hope we have helped minimise the effects for the Queensland pig industry this time around."