2013-03-27 xml
Many Scottish Farmers Battling Winter Weather

Farmers in Dumfries and Galloway and parts of Argyll and the Islands are battling through some of the worst March weather on record.

Heavy drifting snow over the weekend has placed many ewes and lambs in peril and severely disrupted the delivery of vital feed and fuel stocks. The daily collection of milk in these parts has also been badly affected with several farmers having to pour away overflowing tanks. Loss of power in these areas has also placed an additional strain on farming businesses.

Blackfaced Sheep

photo © Jennifer MacKenzie

Feed delivery problems will be eased by the Department of Transport announcement that it has agreed to the temporary relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours and working time rules for those involved in the distribution of animal feed. This temporary relaxation applied from Sunday 24 March and will run until Saturday 30 March.

Dumfries and Galloway Regional Chairman Andrew McCornick, who farms at Barnbackle, Lochfoot, Dumfries is typical of those hit by the weather. Commenting on his situation, Andrew said:

“We are well through our annual lambing so the snow couldn’t have hit at a worse time. We have managed to dig our way around most of the fields with ewes and lambs in them. We managed to get feed to those that we have found and we have been digging many of them out of the snow.

“The drifting snow is so bad that there are still many vulnerable sheep that we are still battling to get to and we know that we are likely to face losses when the snow has cleared

“We have sufficient hay, silage and concentrates to last until the middle of the week by which time clearing the farm road will be a priority as we will need animal feeding by this time. To compound problems, snow has fallen off a roof and burst the fuel line to the house and drained all the heating oil. We will also need to get this repaired and then get a fuel lorry in.

“We do have power - unlike some other farmers - and we are able to continue to calve our cows indoors. However, I know of some that are calving cows outside as well as lambing, so they will be in a hellish place. There is a feeling of hopelessness but you just have to put your head down and carry on with what, on a lot of farms, is a salvage operation.”


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