Planning for winter: snow, flooding and fodder

Farmers are being advised to be ‘winter ready’ with a new booklet, brought out by Teagasc and other organisations including the Office of Emergency Planning.

With the first frost of the year at the weekend, and some predictions for a very cold winter, the booklet has advice for farmers and those living in rural areas.

Farming is always a dangerous occupation and it is even more so when severe weather arrives, it says.

It advises farmers to ensure they always tell someone where they are going, and how long they will be gone for. Wear suitable layers of clothing and carry a charged mobile phone and a torch, it advises.

It also says to never use stand-by generator indoors, as fumes from the engine can be lethal.

Cold Weather and Snow

Plan how you will get food and water to your stock, it advises in case the weather takes a turn for the worst.

To prevent machinery and water supplies freezing up:

  • Have thermostatically controlled heaters in the pump house;
  • An insulation blanket/plastic sheet placed at the entrance to the;
  • milking parlour may help prevent milking machines freezing up;
  • Drain wash-down pumps; and,
  • Check the antifreeze levels in all your engines.

It also says to have a plan to clear routes around your farm buildings and have a stock of gritting material and salt.

If you have to search for animals in the snow, it advises to wear high-visibility clothing so you too can be easily seen.

Looking After Livestock

Prepare in advance for feeding fodder to cattle and establish feeding requirements as early as possible for the winter and ensure there is a reserve of 1-2 bales per head.

Get your silage quality analysed. Meal supplementation rates must be based on silage quality.

Flooding on the Farm

If your farm is prone to flooding:

  • Move your livestock to areas you can access if flooing risk is high;
  • Carefully assess the depth of floods before drivin through them;
  • Only use suitable vehicles if you have to drive through floods; and,
  • Secure valuable equipment and fuel supplies in suitable locations so they are not ruined by water.
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