Prepare now for Winter

Date published: 01 December 2023

With the present cold snap, this should act as a reminder that now is a good time to plan for all eventualities in weather conditions.

This includes freezing conditions resulting in frozen and burst pipes; snow and ice can result in problems in getting deliveries in or collections out and feeding stock outdoors and wind has the potential for causing damage to farm buildings. For each of these risks you should think how you would deal with the severe weather and your ability to provide water, food, and shelter.

It is good practice to ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated and protected from livestock. Turn off water to fields that have no livestock and keep a supply of relevant water fittings to repair any leakages. Check that antifreeze is in all vehicles. Clear all spouting’s and ensure clean water drains are free from debris. You should also have a supply of grit /salt.

If wind is forecast, secure all loose objects that may be blown around the farmyard, close and secure all doors and windows.  Keep away from the sheltered side of walls, buildings, and trees in case they collapse. Do not go and repair damage while the storm is in progress. Do not drive unless your journey is necessary and if you must drive, be aware of side winds. Do not touch any electrical /telephone cables that have blown down.

If snow and frost are forecast, plan how you would get food and water to your stock. If milk collections are suspended, have you extra storage capacity in place? If feed deliveries can’t get through, have you sufficient feed stored to cover your requirements. Minimise air flow by sealing doors and preventing drafts, drain out the milking machine and protect pipes/pumps from freezing.  Keep tractors, handlers, and quads in a shed when not in use. Check and test backup generators and equipment, never use stand by generators indoors as the fumes from the engine can be lethal. Before going out onto the land always tell someone where you are going, how long you will be and wear suitable layers of cloths and high visibility clothing when searching for animals.

Keep a close eye on the weather forecast so that you can take appropriate action. Check websites to see if there is interruption to water and electricity supplies in your area. Some time spent now, preparing your farm for the unexpected, could save you a lot of problems in the future.

Have a list and/or store the numbers on the phone of those you may need to contact. These could include electricity company, electrician, NI water, plumber, milk collection and meal supplier and keep your phone and a torch fully charged. The main priority is that you stay safe.

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