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Preparing for Winter on the farm

Like all businesses, farmers should be as prepared as they can be for severe weather. Identify your business risks and get ready.

Housing and snow / storm damage

  • Have you identified buildings that may be particularly vulnerable?
  • Have you identified alternative or additional housing options (perhaps in conjunction with neighbouring farms)?
  • Have you made plans to allow you to accommodate expansion of stock numbers (particularly in intensive situations) if you cannot get stock off farm?

Livestock location

  • Have you plans in place to reduce risk for ‘remote’ stock in the event of a ‘bad’ forecast?
  • Have you identified ‘safe’ and accessible areas to which stock may be moved in the event of a ‘bad’ forecast?

Feed

  • Have you adequate feed supplies?
  • If not, have you considered how you are going to maintain stocks during periods of severe weather and transport disruption? A ‘just in time’ strategy is vulnerable in winter!
  • Have you considered the early dispersal of feed stocks in strategic locations – perhaps in conjunction with neighbouring farmers?

Bedding

  • Have you sufficient stocks of bedding going into winter? A ‘just in time’ strategy is vulnerable in winter!
  • Have you secured as much straw as possible under cover (either in buildings or under sheeting)?
  • Are you aware of alternative options to ‘conventional’ bedding?

Planning with neighbouring farms

  • Have you considered the benefits of joint planning with neighbouring farms to ensure critical business activity can be sustained?
  • Have you discussed with neighbouring farmers the mutual benefits of joint contingency arrangements?

Machinery

  • Is your machinery ‘winter-proofed’?
  • Is your feeding machinery well serviced going into winter?
  • Have you a back up feeding system?
  • Have you shed capacity freed up to ensure that tractor fuel systems have some frost protection?

Slurry

  • Have you ensured no surface / rainwater can enter slurry tanks / stores?
  • Have you sufficient storage capacity or have you contingency solutions in place?
  • Have you emptied your slurry store(s) in preparation for winter in order to avoid the need to spread during unsuitable conditions (or NVZ closed periods)?
  • Do not move underground slurry with cattle in the building. It can kill!

Water

  • Have you made adequate preparation to ensure that water supplies to stock are secured in the event of freezing conditions?
  • Have you contingency arrangements that you can draw on if necessary, e.g. water bowsers?
  • Have you considered the possibility / benefit of having a continuous flow water system to prevent freezing?

Fuel / Power

  • Have you made provision to have adequate stocks of fuel oil / heating oil going into winter? A ‘just in time’ strategy is vulnerable in winter!
  • Have you sufficient storage capacity?
  • Are your fuel tanks / stores secure?
  • Do you know where you can source ’emergency’ fuel stocks if necessary?
  • Have you considered the need for ’emergency’ generators?

Access

  • How are you going to ensure vital access and exit points are kept open?
  • Have you contingencies in place to allow you to clear snow with your own equipment or local equipment?
  • Have you sufficient stocks of salt / grit to keep vital access and exit points open?

Insurance

  • Have you reviewed your insurance cover in light of recent severe winters / storm damage?
  • Have you adequate insurance cover in place?
  • Does your insurance policy include cover for ‘severe weather / storm damage’?

Health and Safety

  • Deep snow on the roof of a farm building may present a danger to personnel and could result in damage or even collapse of the building.
  • Farmers should assess all the risks before removing snow from buildings or undertaking repairs.
  • Great care should be exercised when clearing snow from a roof, as there is a danger of causing the building to collapse by creating unequal loading of the structure.
  • In the event of building collapse or partial collapse, or where there is suspicion that a building is at risk of collapsing, farm personnel should not enter the building until an inspection has been carried out by a competent person and it is assessed as safe to do so.

(Source -http://www.readyscotland.org/are-you-ready/winter-weather/winter-on-the-farm/)

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