Winter on the farm

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?

Livestock location

  • 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.