James Christensen (left), of Pine Mountain, who helped to rescue this cow from floodwaters, with the owner David Strong, of Wivenhoe Pocket.
James Christensen (left), of Pine Mountain, who helped to rescue this cow from floodwaters, with the owner David Strong, of Wivenhoe Pocket. David Nielsen

Heifer is plucked from tree

IT has been a long time coming but a cow that was picked up like a buoy and tossed among the treetops during the floods has been returned to its owner.

The two-and-a-half-year-old Santa Gertrudis was discovered in serious strife on January 12 at Pine Mountain, where it became entangled in branches of trees after floating more than 20km down the raging Brisbane River.

Property owner James Christensen noticed the stricken beast and immediately gathered his neighbours, Dave and Joe Andrews, some rope and a small aluminium boat to attempt a rescue.

But with the Brisbane River flowing at an intimidating rate due to remarkable amounts of rain in the Lockyer Valley and large-scale releases from Wivenhoe Dam, no rescue effort was going to be straightforward.

“The place where we dragged her out was probably about five to 10 metres up in the trees,” Mr Christensen said.

“We toyed with the idea of putting a rope around her neck, but we were concerned about getting tossed overboard if she thrashed about too much.”

Initially the cow’s instincts were telling it to swim away from its rescuers.

It took about 30 minutes to eventually coax the distressed heifer out of its tight spot, with Mr Andrews gripping the beast’s tail while Mr Christensen reversed the tinnie across to the bank – the little 15-horsepower Mariner outboard revving hard.

Although it would have been extremely stressed, the three-year-old heifer, named Bambi, has recovered well since the ordeal. Its owners, Wivenhoe Pocket graziers David and Laura Strong and Ian MacDonald, lost 36 head of cattle and a pony when floods consumed their land in January.

Mrs Strong said cows ended up in paddocks right along the river, with some neighbouring farmers telling her they remembered hearing several of her cows “bellowing for help” as they rode the torrent toward Brisbane.

“Some of them floated 3-4km downstream – about 19 of them ended up on a vacant property at Splityard Creek – while one of them ended up at Karalee,” she said.

“We thought they were all dead and we’d never hear of them again, but we’ve since had 29 of them returned – the amount of help we have received from neighbours has been heartwarming.”

The cow that ended up at the Christensens’ was traced back to the Strongs through a National Livestock Identification System tag, which was inserted in its ear.

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