The Minister said: “Severe weather conditions and low temperatures can cause problems for livestock and it is important that farmers, like all businesses, should be as prepared as they can be.
“Extreme weather conditions are an added pressure which makes planning ahead very important. To help minimise the impact and meet their animals’ needs, I urge all farmers to ensure that they have adequate feed supplies, sufficient stocks of bedding and contingency arrangements in place to ensure water supplies to livestock.”
Highlighting the assistance available to help farmers with winter preparations, she continued: “Training and short courses to help farmers assess fodder requirement are provided at the College of Agriculture and Rural Enterprise(CAFRE) and DARD Development Advisors are also available to provide assistance with drawing up feeding plans for livestock.
“Private Veterinary Practitioners(PVPs) also have a vital role to play in animal welfare through the provision of professional advice to stock-keepers with potential or actual welfare problems on their farms. PVPs should be approached as soon as a welfare problem is noticed so that immediate action can be taken.”
The Minister also appealed to all rural dwellers to be vigilant to the needs of their neighbours in the Winter months: “At this time of year, the elderly and vulnerable in our society may find it a struggle to keep themselves safe and can become isolated if they live alone and are unable to get out of their home. Neighbourly help and assistance can make a big difference and I call on all rural dwellers to think about what they could do to help others this winter.”