Preparing for the Winter Season
December 13, 2022
“The weather has dipped into a cold spell after such a mild autumn” says Kieran McCartan, CAFRE Agri-adviser. He continues that “as we come into the winter now is a good time to plan for all eventualities, 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 and wind has the potential for causing damage to farm buildings and flooding including leaving livestock stranded. Kieran advises that “for each of these risks you should think how you would deal with severe weather and your ability to provide water, food and shelter”.
It is good practice to ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated and protected from livestock. Turn off water to fields that have no livestock and keep a supply of relevant water fittings to repair any leakages. Check and test backup generators and equipment as well as ensure antifreeze is in all vehicles. Clear all spouting’s, ensure clean water drains are free from debris and ensure all roof sheets are secure. You should also have a supply of grit /salt.
Have a list and/or store the numbers on the phone of those you may need to contact. These could include the electricity company, electrician, NI water, plumber, milk collection and meal supplier and keep your phone and a torch fully charged.
If heavy rain is forecast and there are areas of the farm at risk of flooding, move livestock to higher ground, ensuring you can gain access to them and make sure that fodder will not flood. Take care while driving and access the depths of floods before driving through. Water and electricity are never a good combination. Turn off the electricity if water levels could reach plugs.
If wind is forecast, secure all loose objects that may be blown around the farmyard, close and secure all doors and windows. Keep away from the sheltered side of walls, buildings and trees in case they collapse. Do not go and repair damage while the storm is in progress. Do not drive unless your journey is necessary and if you must drive, be aware of side winds. Do not touch any electrical /telephone cables that have blown down.
If snow and frost are forecast, plan how you would get food and water to your stock. If milk collections are suspended, have you extra storage capacity in place? If feed deliveries can’t get through, have you sufficient feed stored to cover farm requirements? Minimise air flow by sealing doors and preventing drafts, drain out the milking machine and protect pipes/pumps from freezing. Keep tractors, handlers and quads in a shed when not in use. Never use stand by generators indoors, as the fumes from the engine can be lethal. Before going out onto the land always tell someone where you are going, how long you will be and wear suitable layers of cloths and high visibility clothing when searching for animals.
Kieran concludes to “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”.