‘Repairs to farm buildings should be carried out by qualified personnel’

As the country recovers from Storm Emma and the thaw continues, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is asking that all stakeholders remain vigilant in respect of farm safety.

The impacts of the storm have varied considerably nationwide; with areas along the east and south most impacted – as are farmers on high ground.

Although the problem of freezing water pipes is now easing somewhat, it is advised that care must be taken as burst pipes are revealed with the thaw.

Concerns relating to the provision of water, shelter and feed to livestock also remain in some areas – especially in regions in the south-east.

Advice issued by department officials states that: “where farmers are tending animals, they should ensure they carry a mobile phone, let people know where they are and check-in at appropriate regular intervals.

Where attending to animals in remote locations, a second person should be in accompaniment. Care should be maintained around the farmyard when clearing up after the storm.

Falls represent the single biggest threat during any clean-up period after such storms and appropriate care needs to be taken to avoid such occurrences,” the statement said.

Farmers are advised that any attempts to remove snow from roofs of farm buildings should be avoided; while repairs to buildings and equipment should be carried out by appropriately qualified personnel.

With a thaw there will be significant volumes of slush and water to deal with, so it will be particularly important to ensure drains and gullies are clear to prevent flooding of tanks.

Further advice on farming during severe weather conditions is available on the Teagasc website.

Animal Welfare

The department’s 24-hour animal welfare helpline continues to be monitored and this will remain the case over the coming days. Members of the public with any concerns can contact the department’s helpline on: call save 0761 064408 or 01-6072379.

There have been 40 calls to the helpline since Wednesday, all of which have been appropriately responded to.

As a matter of course, it is advised that water troughs should continue to be checked twice daily, and that any ice on external troughs is broken as needed.

Industry operations

Subject to local conditions being suitable, most meat plants are planning to resume operations tomorrow (Monday).

Milk collection has now resumed throughout most of the country, however, the situation remains challenging in some areas in the south-east and on higher ground. The department is coordinating with the dairy industry, and with other Government agencies, to expedite collections.

Meanwhile, the department’s offices are expected to reopen tomorrow. However, subject to local conditions in a small number of locations (Johnstown Castle and Backweston) some opening hours may be later than normal.