Cows exposed in storm and not milked for days at farm part-run by Teagasc
Hundreds of cows and their calves were left exposed to the worst of Storm Emma in a farm part-run by Teagasc.
Agriculture chiefs are expected to review the operation of ‘open greenfield’ farms in extreme weather in the wake of the challenges of the past weekend.
A number of calves were lost at a Kilkenny facility since the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma hit Ireland, with the animals kept in roofless cubicles on a special concrete pad.
At one point, snow drifts of a metre covered the roofless cubicles in Kilkenny as staff worked around the clock in an effort to protect the exposed animals from the elements.
Dozens of other open greenfield farms are now operated by large-scale dairy producers across Ireland, particularly in Munster. Some farmers have questioned the suitability of such cattle systems to the Irish environment.
A well-placed Government source said that in the aftermath of this weekend a review was likely into the operation of such open greenfield farms in extreme weather conditions.
However, Teagasc dismissed suggestions that the farming practice was in any way cruel.
Workers had to repeatedly dig snow out from the open cattle storage area and trackways. They also had to dig the exposed milking parlour out of snow drifts. Cows were not milked for almost two days. Workers even had to battle to keep the milking machines defrosted.