Video: Stranded cattle brave floodwaters to join farmer on high ground

A farmer in Co. Cavan was caught by surprise when he got a call this week to say that some of his cattle were trapped as a result of rising floodwaters.

Earlier this week, Met Eireann issued a rainfall warning for parts of the country. Up to 40mm of rain was forecast to fall, while there was a danger of higher accumulations in some areas.

Ken Foster, who runs a dairy farm not far from the border with Co. Monaghan, got a call on Tuesday evening from a person who was out doing a bit of hunting to say that some of his cattle were being cut off from dry ground as a result of a rising flood.

Speaking to AgriLand, Foster said: “The cattle are on a bit of an out-farm that’s about three miles away from the house. The drain in the field only rises when the river is well up; the river is about three miles away.

“I was at the field that morning at about 8:30am or 9:00am and there was no water there at all. As soon as I got the call I went down to the field; it was about 3:30pm or 4:00pm at that stage.”

Once the floodwaters began to rise, the 14 young Friesian heifers that were in the field were located on the wrong side of the drain to reach high ground. The cattle kept moving back to avoid the water, which brought them further and further away from the gateway to reach higher ground.

But once Foster arrived on the scene, the cattle – who were used to getting a bit of meal everyday – threw caution to the wind when they heard his calls and made their way back to dry land.

The water was close to 2ft deep in spots and the cattle nearly had to swim up to me. When I went down the next morning, the floodwaters were gone – except for a little bit of water in one corner of the field.

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The floodwaters disappeared as quickly as they had risen. Image source: Ken Foster

Foster put the sudden flood down to a blockage somewhere along the drain, as the river never showed any sign of flooding prior to him getting the call.

Flooding havoc in the midlands

Meanwhile, parts of the midlands also suffered severed flooding as a result of the heavy rainfall earlier this week.

Mountmellick in Co. Laois was hit particularly badly. One dairy farmer was left scratching his head when about 60 weanlings were left marooned in a field on a patch of high ground that was surrounded by water.

Speaking to AgriLand, Bernard Rochford – who farms in a family partnership – said: “We change them everyday. I went over on Tuesday morning to move them and the ground was wet.

There was a bit of water there on Wednesday morning then. The plan was to move them that evening and to maybe put them in, but we got distracted that evening with what was going on in town.

Rochford was apprehensive on Thursday morning when he went to check the weanlings and sure enough the water level had risen significantly in the field.

“I had to go through the water to let down an electric fence to let them onto a higher bit of the bank. I’m about 6ft 2in – so I’m not a small lad – but the water was up to my waist nearly. It was 3ft deep at the deepest point.

“It’s the worst flood in living memory. The rapidness of it is what caught a lot of people by surprise,” he said.

The dairy farmer was hopeful that the floodwaters would have receded by this morning, but he didn’t really no what to expect.

“We brought down two bales of hay when we were going to check them this morning. The water level had dropped a bit so we managed to run them through a point where the water was about 1ft deep to a drier bit of ground. They were’t too keen to go through it.

“I thought they would have done a lot more damage to the ground. It’s blackened a bit, but it’s not to bad,” he explained.