IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the conditions on sheep farms across the country are extremely difficult as a result of the heavy snow falls, blizzard conditions and frost.
He said there is no doubt that there will be heavy losses in some hill and mountain areas where farmers were unable to move sheep earlier in the week and especially where snow drifting occurred. He said it is clear some major snow drifts of up to 20ft occurred and if sheep got caught in these they are in real trouble.
Sean Dennehy said hill sheep farmers should exercise extreme caution with their own safety in attempting to look after their flocks. “It is strongly advised not to venture to the hills or mountains, unless it is considered safe to do so. In addition, it is best farmers do not go alone and make sure to have a fully charged mobile phone with them where contact can be made at all times.”
Conditions are also extremely challenging with lowland and housed flocks, and where flocks are lambing it is very demanding, Sean Dennehy said. As lambing proceeds, indoor space is becoming scarce as farmers are unable to get ewes and lambs out in these conditions. With the blizzards farmers are finding it very difficult to keep a dry bed under stock, especially where sheds are open on the east and northern sides.
“Frozen water pipes are also a major problem, with water availability for stock a priority,” he said.
Sean Dennehy said this is a very testing and tiring time on farms across the country, “Farmers are working throughout the night at this time of the year lambing ewes and calving cows. There is a real need for ever extra care and caution to be taken.”
The IFA sheep farmer leader again reminded farmers who are alone at this time, and struggling to access services, supplies or fodder to make contact with their local IFA branch for support, where necessary.