By Stephen Cadogan
Teagasc has advised that no urea fertiliser should be spread this week, because soil temperatures are too low, and there is a risk of run-off of the unabsorbed fertiliser in excess water from melted snowfalls.
With Storm Emma forecast to strike today, farmers going out on the land should tell someone where they are going, and for how long.
They should wear suitable layers of clothing (including high visibility clothing); and carry a charged phone and a torch.
Cattle can cope with low temperatures if they have plenty of feed.
Even young calves are not seriously affected, if they have shelter from chilling winds and driving snow or rain.
It is vital that all stock have access to water, so check the supply in sheds regularly, and make provision for alternatives if the supply is prone to freezing.
Dairy cows kept indoors full-time should get 2 kg/head/day of meals to compensate for loss of spring grass.
Watch for mastitis, cubicle space, cleanliness of the housing.
Yards with cattle should be cleaned before the snow and treated with salt.
Use grit and salt to ensure safe access to sheds, and for milk collection tankers.
To prevent machinery and water supplies freezing up, use thermostatically controlled pump house heaters, and an insulation blanket or plastic sheet at the milking parlour entrance.
Thoroughly drain the plant after every milking, and in very open parlours, use hot air blowers or infra-red lamps to keep lines from freezing.
If unable to drain a milking machine fully, an option is to leave a salt solution in the milking line at the rate of 0.5 kg salt per five gallons of water, but this must be rinsed away before milking.
Drain wash-down pumps, and check antifreeze levels in all engines.
Bring sheep flocks to sheltered areas.