The Rural View – Preparing for Winter

Thanks to Rural Insurance for sharing some useful tips for helping to cope with the weather conditions this Winter:

‘Having grown up on the family beef and sheep farm in Yorkshire, our Marketing Executive, Emma Smith is familiar with the challenges faced by rural and agricultural communities across the UK. Given the seasonal nature of farming, one of these challenges is the weather.

Let’s face it, it’s been a rather wet winter so far with many farmers struggling to access land to feed livestock, spread muck or plant their winter crops. The drier conditions and cooler temperatures will be welcomed but with the possibilities of ice, sleet and snow over coming months, farmers are faced with increased risks.

Whilst a farm insurance policy is designed to protect you and your farm buildings, livestock and machinery, it’s important to take measures to minimise the risks that extreme weather conditions can put on you and your farm.

We know farmers have experienced bad weather conditions and are accustomed to preparing for it, but here’s a list of considerations to help you through the winter months:

1. Grab your thermals
No matter what the weather forecast says, the work never stops on the farm during winter months. You need to look after yourself in order to carry out the work on your farm so make sure you’re well equipped. Grab your woolly hat, gloves and thermals to keep you warm and safe when working in the outdoors.

2. Prepare your buildings
Over time buildings can deteriorate so it’s important to carry out essential maintenance to make sure they’re capable of housing your livestock and machinery. The external elements of your building, particularly the roof, are most exposed to the changing weather conditions so replacing missing or loose tiles can help, whilst unblocking or repairing guttering enables efficient “runoff”.

3. Check your machinery
The message here is simple. Spend time cleaning and maintaining your agricultural vehicles to make sure they perform during the tougher winter conditions. It’s important to pay close attention to the tyres, making sure they are fit for purpose. For any vehicles that won’t be used, give them a good clean and make any repairs so that they’ll be ready for when you next need them.

4. Prevent burst pipes
With fluctuations in cooling temperatures, pipes are often susceptible to bursting, especially those that are exposed. Make sure your pipes are fully insulted to avoid water freezing and repair any dripping taps. If buildings are going to be left unoccupied over winter, you should either drain the system or leave the heating on a constant temperature to avoid pipes freezing.

5. Keep you and your employees safe
The health and safety of you and others who you employ to work on the farm is of paramount importance. As an employer, ask yourself “Have I carried out a risk assessment? Is the risk assessment up to date and in writing?” The change in weather conditions is just one example of a risk that can impact your daily activities and should be taken into account when carrying out a risk assessment.’