Updated advice for preparing farms for severe weather
While most of the advice is practical knowledge and common sense, there are a few tips that farmers can keep in mind when going about their work in the winter months.
In the event of severe weather, farmers have a number of challenges to overcome to ensure business continuity. The advice stressed that preparation is key in minimising disruption during such events.
Farmers should consider how various severe weather scenarios could affect their farms.
Some of the factors to consider are as follows:
- Is the location at risk of flooding?
- Are access points accessible in event of ice, snow or flooding?
- Are water pipes insulated, including in and around vacant buildings?
- In the event of ice, snow or flooding, can feed be accessed to give to livestock?
The advice also said that farmers should review insurance cover and contact insurance advisors in relation to any concerns regarding cover they may – or may not – have.
Most farmers will remember the big freeze in 2010 and the difficulties it caused for farmers.
A preparation plan should also be considered, in the event of freezing weather conditions.
Some of the issues freezing conditions can cause difficulties for include:
- Provision of feed and water to livestock;
- Delivery of feed to farms and the transport of products from farms;
- Freezing of water pipes to sheds and outdoor water troughs;
- Freezing of milking machines and other equipment in milking parlours;
- Freezing of coolant and diesel in tractors;
- Damage to forage crops being grazed in-situ or stored in farmyards;
- Personal risks of working and driving over icy surfaces.
Personal safety in the winter
There is increased risk of injury during severe weather conditions too. Most injuries result from slips and falls, causing fractures and head injuries.
The Office of Emergency Planning offered the following tips to farmers during a heavy frost:
- Clear a number of tracks around the farmyard, treat with de-icing salt and keep to these safe walkways;
- Grit sloped yards and roadways to facilitate traffic;
- Herd out-wintered livestock during daylight hours and be back before nightfall;
- Keep away from hazardous areas and rough terrain;
- Bring a mobile phone when going out herding or on other journeys.
If rigging up additional lamps and heaters, use the correct wiring and ensure these are protected by a 30 milliamp RCD (Residual Current Device) on the switch or fuse board to prevent electric shocks.