The arrival of the current cold snap has certainly signalled that winter is coming and with that, it is important that farmers are prepared.

Most of the country in recent days experienced significant changes in weather conditions with drops in temperatures, and in some cases snow.

Kieran McCartan, an agri-adviser with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) has offered some advice to farmers, said: “As we come into the winter, now is a good time to plan for all eventualitiesn including freezing conditions resulting in frozen and burst pipes.

“Snow and ice can result in problems in getting deliveries in or collections out and feeding stock outdoors.”

He also noted that wind has the potential for causing damage to farm buildings and flooding including leaving livestock stranded.

“For each of these risks you should think how you would deal with severe weather and your ability to provide water, food and shelter,” he said.


To ensure that you are prepared for the winter ahead, you should firstly ensure that you have supplies to fix any leaks to troughs or pipes that occur.

Where possible, ensure that pipes within buildings are insulated and protected from livestock.

Turn off water to fields that have no livestock to prevent damage from occurring during freezing conditions.

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Check that all gutter and down pipes are clear of obstructions and that clean water drains are free from debris.


On farms that are out-wintering animals it is important that close attention is paid to the weather forecast.

If heavy rain, high winds or snow is forecast, these animals may need to be moved or given access to some housing.

It is also important that animals that are housed over the winter period are closely monitored during severe weather conditions.

Machinery check

It is also important as we head into the winter months that all machinery on the farm is checked.

Check and test backup generators and equipment as well, and ensure antifreeze is in all vehicles.

Any machinery or equipment not being used over the winter months should be stored under cover.

In the milking parlour it is advised that you minimise air flow by sealing doors and preventing drafts.

You should drain out the milking machine to protect pipes/pumps from freezing.

Milking parlours on many farms will go unused for a number of weeks, but it is important to keep a close eye on everything.

Important contacts for winter

It is also advised that you have important numbers that may be needed over the months ahead saved to your phone.

These could include the electricity company; electrician; water; plumber; milk collection; and meal supplier, as well as emergency services.

You should also have a supply of grit/salt and a number of torches available for use if needed.

Days are much shorter and conditions can change a lot quicker during the winter so it is important before you head off to do any job to let someone know where you are going and how long you plan on being there.

Ensure that you wear suitable layers of clothes, ideally with high visibility, if working in an area where there may be traffic.

McCartan added: “Keep a close eye on the weather forecast so that you can take appropriate action.

“Check websites to see if there is interruption to water and electricity supplies in your area.

“Some time spent now, preparing your farm for the unexpected, could save you a lot of problems in the future. The main priority is that you stay safe this winter.”