Farm Ireland

Saturday 20 January 2018

Independent view: Livestock loss another cost of cold snap

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The cold snap may have passed but many farmers are still counting the cost of one of the coldest Decembers on record.

For some that price involved the loss of livestock. While putting firm figures of the extent of the losses is impossible, there are reports of cattle deaths due to weather-related incidents across the country.

The causes range from thirsty cattle gorging themselves on cold water, to stock being drowned after breaking onto frozen lakes and water courses.

Knackeries also report increased numbers of cows and heifers being lost due to falls on frozen yards.

Pat Coyle from The Ward Hunt in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, said he had treble the number of cows and heifers lost to falls than he had in previous Decembers.

He said calf losses due to virus pneumonia were also running close to double normal levels.

Con Duggan, an animal collector from Ballinhassig, Co Cork, said cattle losses due to falls were up 30pc while deaths due to virus pneumonia were also running well ahead of normal.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Lambe of the Animal Collectors Association, confirmed that he had collected two cattle which had drowned after falling through ice on a frozen lake in south Monaghan. In Cavan, a number of cattle are understood to have been lost after they strayed onto a frozen lake.

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Serious problems have also been reported with concrete water troughs splitting due to the cold.

On a lighter note, the Arctic conditions also contributed to some unusual spectacles and happenings. One such incident was observed by Frances McDonnell on the banks of the Shannon at Knappogue, Clondra, Co Longford.

Frances was watching a fox on the road close to her parents' house in the week before Christmas. The fox was strolling along the road when suddenly he walked out onto the middle of the frozen river.

"He had a look either way when he was half way across and then went off to the other side," Frances said. "At the time the river was frozen completely across from the eastern to the western bank and was completely covered in snow. You couldn't distinguish between the river and the road," she explained.

"The joke locally is that it was a Roscommon fox that had strayed across the Shannon and was heading home," Frances added.

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