‘Cold snap’ likely to cause frozen water pipe problems on farms

The cold weather of late, which has seen snow and icy conditions in many parts of the country, is set to become worse over the coming days with Met Éireann issuing two Status Yellow warnings for the entire country today – with both alerts coming into effect tonight (Wednesday, January 6).

Therefore, if not done so already, farmers need to assess their water system to see if they are vulnerable to a serious cold snap.

On many farms, a lot of pumps are deep well submersible so they should be OK; however, pipes leading to the shed freezing underground are the real concern.

To combat this, it is handy to have a second pipe at hand that you could use overground to get water to the shed during the cold snap.

Furthermore, it is important to empty this pipe every evening so it’s not frozen the next morning if you need to use it again.

If you have issues with frozen pipes or envisage a problem occurring then here are a few other ideas to help prevent this problem:

  • Have a thermostatically controlled fan heater in the pump house;
  • Any exposed pipes should be insulated;
  • A tap can be left to run at a low rate to keep water flowing where there is an on-farm supply source;
  • Make sure connections are well-insulated and drain all the water from the hose after use.

Over the coming days, make sure to check all water troughs in the shed to make sure they are in working order first thing in the morning. Regardless of weather conditions, this should be done anyway.

If cattle are left without water for even a short period of time it can lead to serious problems – especially for those on a concentrate diet.

According to Teagasc, if an animal is without water for a prolonged period of time, there is a chance they could gorge themselves when water is made available again.

Therefore, if adequate water cannot be provided for a period, it is best to reduce concentrate feed levels and when the water supply is restored, these cattle should be introduced to meal gradually once again.

With regards to water troughs in fields, especially concrete troughs, it is best to empty them if they are not in use because there is a fair chance these troughs may crack if the water freezes. Isolation valves are also a useful tool for water management on a farm.