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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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!
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- Advice is available from the Health and Safety Executive.