Livestock losses from snowfall exceed 15,000

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THE number of livestock lost as a result of the snowfall in March now exceeds 15,000, the Manx National Farmers’ Union has said.

It includes more than 6,500 sheep and 8,000 lambs which have been collected by the Department of Infrastructure for disposal since March 25.

The number of dead animals has continued to rise as they are recovered from under the deepest snow drifts in remote areas.

MNFU general secretary Belinda Leach said that ‘consequential losses’ – such as animals aborting the lambs or calves they are carrying – were still happening.

But she added: ‘We are not now expecting that number to rise at all significantly.’

She praised the DoI’s ‘swift response’ in waivering the fee for collecting dead animals – the charge comes back into force this afternoon (Friday).

Mrs Leach said farmers were ‘exhausted’ after the extra work to trace and recover their livestock during what is always a busy time in the farming calendar.

And the weather – in particular the slow rise in ground temperature – has continued to pile pressure on farmers.

Cattle are being kept inside because there isn’t enough grass for them outside, and cereal crops ‘are way behind in development’.

Mrs Leach said fodder was harder to find, and that farmers were working cooperatively.

She said the looming TT festival was also putting pressure on farmers – while they always try to get the first cut of silage done before the surge in visitors to the island so their tractors and trailers aren’t on the road at the same time, this year, the crop won’t be ready until then.

She added: ‘They’re also trying to get fencing in a sound condition before the TT and the general increase in traffic it brings.’

‘There’s quite a lot of pressure at the moment,’ she said.

Government support to the industry will be direct emergency support, interest-free or low interest loans and support for the Meat Plant.

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