Fodder and machinery were destroyed in a large fire on a farm in Balla, Co. Mayo over the weekend, it has been confirmed.

The blaze broke out on Saturday afternoon last (August 11), with fire brigades called to the scene at approximately 1:30pm.

Lasting some six hours, firefighters eventually departed the farm at about 7:40pm.

Speaking on the matter, the senior assistant chief fire officer for Mayo Fire and Rescue Service, Toney Shevlin, said: “I can confirm that two units from Mayo Fire Service attended a hay barn fire on Saturday last.

There was hay, straw and machinery destroyed in the fire. We left the scene at 7:41pm.

“There was a tractor and a quad bike burnt, together with about 70 odd bales of hay and 40 odd bales of straw,” Shevlin added.

According to local publication The Connaught Telegraph, neighbours assisted the firefighters and affected farm family to save fodder and property, as well as bring the blaze under control.

Issue of bale theft

Such a loss is the last thing anyone would need given the extremely harsh weather experienced across the country this year-to-date, bringing with it a severe fodder shortage in many parts.

This has led to instances of bale theft in some cases.

Tom Stephenson, a drystock and tillage farmer and Wicklow chair of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), explained the extra measures he had put in place on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan recently.

He said: “I had some extra security in because of the sheer demand for bales and people coming in and taking them out of the field.

You see – in the tillage industry – lorries come in, tractors come in, no one passes any remarks on them coming in because it’s a common occurrence at this time of the year.

“But, since this fodder crisis has come in, we have to take additional measures by putting old slurry tankers and trailers in the gateways that block the traffic coming in – to make sure that our customers get supplied with the straw that they have ordered maybe six months ago.”