How dairy farmers stood by one another as they dealt with power outages

Dairy farmers have stood by one another and helped each other out as some areas of the country suffered widespread power outages in the aftermath of ex-hurricane Ophelia earlier this week.

Countless stories have been circulating where farmers have been offering spare generators free of charge and helping out neighbouring farmers in whatever way they can.

A significant amount of farmers in southern counties were left without power and water on Monday, October 16, after gusts reaching 190kph tore trees out of the ground.

ESB workers have been working tirelessly to get the network back up and running. The number of power outages exceeded 380,000 at one point during the height of the storm.

Since then, the ESB claims that 335,000 homes and business have had power restored, with additional support services coming in from the UK and France to help with the mammoth repair job.

There is still a total of 50,000 homes and businesses without power as of this morning.

Earlier this week, the number of seriously-affected Glanbia farms was estimated at approximately 500. A plea was sent out by the processor for farmers to make generators available where possible to help other dairy farmers who were left without power.

Dairygold is another processor which has been “working closely and proactively” with its suppliers and hauliers to prioritise collections from those worst affected by the storm.

‘Generators are like hens’ teeth’

One dairy farmer near Aherla in Co. Cork, Peter Hynes, answered a call for help on social media during the week.

Having already highlighting the fact that he had a spare 15kVA tractor-driven generator in the yard that was available to anyone who found themselves in bother, Hynes was contacted by a dairy farmer just under an hour away from him who was in urgent need of some help.

Whilst upgrading his farm recently, Hynes took the decision to install a built-in generator – as, over the last number of years, power outages have become more common.

Speaking to AgriLand, on Wednesday (October 18), Hynes said: “I put it up on Twitter that we had a spare generator. One farmer contacted me and said he was badly stuck.

“He hadn’t milked the cows since Monday. So they came out last night (Tuesday) and loaded it into a cattle box. Before he came, I told him to bring an electrician with him – as he would get it running a lot faster if he saw it being disconnected.

Generators are like hens’ teeth around here now at the moment.

Hynes believes a lot more farmers will be looking at investing in a generator in the future, following this storm.

“Each and everyone to their own. But you need it for the peace of mind. A lot of farmers will be seriously looking at them now. This isn’t a freak event,” Hynes added.

Getting the job done

In the past few days, farmers whose farms were without power and who couldn’t locate generators were left in a difficult situation.

Owen Hallahan – a dairy farmer near Aglish, Co. Waterford – was willing to help out his neighbour in whatever way he could.

Speaking to AgriLand on Wednesday, Hallahan said: “There were a lot of trees knocked around here and a lot of farmers are without power since 10:00am on Monday morning – we don’t know when it will be back.”

Milking approximately 190 cows, Hallahan was forced to rely on a PTO-driven generator that had been on the farm for years when the main power went. However, it wasn’t powerful enough to power the entire system at once, which did mean the regular milking procedure took a bit longer.

With one particular neighbour – a winter milk producer with freshly-calved cows – also without power, Hallahan decided to offer the use of his own parlour to let him milk his herd.

Hallahan confirmed that the high demand for generators was not just unique to Co. Cork.

Thinking outside the box

Meanwhile, one dairy farmer – from Ballydesmond on the border of counties Kerry and Cork – who was also left without power came up with a novel solution.

Incorporating the use of a slurry tanker, a 12V battery and some canny engineering, Liam O’Keeffe managed to find a solution in order to let him milk without power.

Faced with no power, O’Keeffe decided to sit down and think the solution through. He believes it could some farmers out of trouble if no generator could be located.