Be Prepared for a Cold Snap: Extreme Weather Checklist for Farmers

From flash floods to freak localised snowfall, the UK has suffered varying degrees of extreme weather in the past decade — with farmers among those hardest hit by the poor conditions. Sadly, as climate change continues to affect the UK’s once semi-predictable weather, we’re likely to see more extreme weather in the future, making it imperative that farmers know how to prepare for a cold (or wet) snap.

To help farmers ready themselves for bad weather, we’ve produced a comprehensive checklist which covers many of the things you should do to ensure your farm is prepared for extreme weather conditions.

Around the Farm

Given their rurality, farms are often exposed to the harshest weather conditions, with crops and livestock most at risk from strong winds, flooding and heavy snowfall. In the event of freak weather, farms need to have a contingency plan in place to safeguard livestock, as well as the safety of members of staff.

livestock in cold weather conditions

Here are a few things to consider to prepare the farm for bad weather.

Prepare Farm Employees

  • Create an evacuation plan and post it around the workplace. This should cover emergency access routes, meeting points and additional safety information.
  • Identify shelter points in case evacuation isn’t a viable option, and make sure each location is equipped with emergency provisions (more on this below).
  • Ensure that all employees have open lines of communication in the event of extreme weather. Mobile phones may not have signal, so consider a two-way radio setup or phone tree system.
  • Practice emergency procedures on a quarterly basis, ensuring that all members of staff are aware of the farm’s emergency contingency plan.

Set Out Plans for an Emergency

  • Identify areas of the farm which would be suitable for relocating assets to in the event of emergency. This should be in an elevated area, and should provide enough protection to safeguard livestock, equipment, animal feeds and grain, and expensive agrochemicals like herbicides and pesticides.
  • Make a list of your current farm inventory. This should include livestock (species and number of animals), crops (acreage, crop type), machinery and equipment, and hazardous substances.
  • Make a list of emergency contact numbers, including your local veterinarian, the national Floodline number, supplier information, and employee contact numbers.
  • List the suppliers and businesses which your farm deals with on a regular basis, and inform them of your contingency plan in the event the farm becomes cut off — informing fuel and animal feed deliveries are particularly important.
  • Create a detailed map of the farm - highlighting buildings and structures, access routes, barriers and fences, locations of livestock, locations of hazardous substances and electrical shutoff locations. This should be posted in strategic locations around the farm, helping members of staff and emergency service workers to access the safest route in the event of an emergency.

farm building maintenance in winter

Stockpile Supplies Needed to Protect the Farm

This should include things like:

  • Sandbags and tarpaulin, in case of flooding
  • Surplus fuel for tractors and vehicles
  • Wire and rope to secure loose heavy objects, like lumber
  • Portable emergency generators
  • Extra lumber and plywood to protect windows against strong winds
  • Hand tools for emergency situations — shovels, hand saws, pry bars etc.
  • Fire extinguishers — these should be accessible in all farm buildings and vehicles
  • A surplus supply of food for livestock. This should be stored in a protective environment in an elevated position
  • First aid provision should be readily available in every farm building, with a stockpile of additional medical supplies in case of emergencies

Farm Maintenance

  • Inspect farm buildings and infrastructure on a regular basis, carrying out maintenance work where required. Buildings should be watertight and insulated (where applicable), with no loose roof panels which could blow off in strong winds.
  • Remove or tie down loose objects in the farmyard, as these could become lethal projectiles in extreme weather.
  • Ensure cold stores and other crop storage sites are kept at a constant temperature, even in harsh winter conditions. Our crop storage products feature moisture meters and thermometers.
  • Consider covering crops with sheeting in the event of hard frosts and strong winds.
  • Make sure alternative power sources, like gas generators, are properly maintained.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain farm transport vehicles, ensuring they’re serviced and ready for extreme weather.

Things to Carry in Farm Vehicles

emergency items for tractor vehicles

Extreme weather can strike at any moment, so it’s best to be prepared whether you spend most of your time in the workshop or out in the field. Here, we provide a checklist of the things you should carry in all farm vehicles for emergency situations.

  • High visibility protective clothing — A high-vis jacket, vest or overalls will help you stay safe in poor, low visibility weather conditions.
  • Waterproofs and warm weather clothing — If you’re left stranded by bad weather, you’ll be grateful you packed additional warm weather clothing and waterproofs.
  • A fire extinguisher — The 600g Dry Powder Extinguisher is perfect for carrying on board farm vehicles.
  • First aid kit
  • A powerful torch or lantern, which is either rechargeable or wind-up.
  • Phone and two-way radio, with chargers
  • Extra food, drink and energy provisions
  • A snow shovel
  • Wellington boots and chest waders — in case of flooding.
  • High visibility warning triangle and roadside signage
  • Toolkit for on-the-spot repairs and maintenance.
  • Toe ropes and equipment
  • Jump leads
  • Matches or gas lighter
  • Portable weather radio, with wind-up capabilities
  • A flare gun
  • Emergency window breaker
  • Ice scraper
  • Paper towels

Spaldings is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of agricultural equipment and groundcare products, helping farmers get the job done whatever the weather. To browse our complete range of quality farm supplies, visit the homepage or call us on 01522 500600.