Farmers urged to prepare for cold weather effect on livestock

Winter weather
Winter weather

Farmers in Northern Ireland have been advised to move their animals into shelter and ensure they have at least a day's worth of water stored in preparation for Arctic conditions.

Livestock on high ground are most at risk from heavy snowfall, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs warned.

Officials have also encouraged farmers to ensure their animals are close to food stocks, in the event that roads or paths are blocked in bad weather.

A spokesman said: "The combination of low temperatures and wind chill can have significant impacts on the welfare of newborn and young animals.

"Livestock on hills and upland areas are at most risk during heavy snowfalls and should be moved to lower ground or sheltered locations.

"Some fodder stocks could also be moved closer to the animals in case access routes become blocked with snow.

"Farm lanes and isolated roads can become unsafe in the event of snow or ice so consider the need for marker signs at the edges."

It is wise to have at least a 24-hour supply of water in reserve in case of frozen or burst pipes, he added.

"Ensure that you have at least 24 hours' water stored and check that all tanks, pipes and pumps are in good working order and not leaking," he said.

"You should have a contingency plan in place if water disruption is for longer than that.

"It is also worth having a few extra plumbing fixtures and fittings in the workshop to repair leaks."

Key questions for farmers to consider, according to the department, include:

- If feeds or other deliveries are disrupted, do you have sufficient in store to see you through a few more days?

- If milk collections are delayed, do you have extra storage capacity in place?

- Have you tested your standby electricity generator should electricity supply be disrupted?

Farmers can call the department on 0300 200 7840 for animal welfare advice.