Easter bonnets exchanged for woolly hats as cold snap continues

Concerns that farm animals will go hungry

Motorists make their way through snow covered roads,on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim after sbnow ploughs cleared drifting snow. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Motorists make their way through snow covered roads,on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim after sbnow ploughs cleared drifting snow. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 07:14


Last Easter we basked in temperatures of up to 20 degrees but this year the advice is to keep the thermal vest on for another while.

Met Éireann forecaster John Eagleton said temperatures were “way below normal” for the time of year. “This time last year, temperatures were nearly up around 20 degrees. That was exceptional. But if you got temperatures of 10 to 13 it certainly would be very acceptable for this time of year.”

Yesterday’s temperatures hovered around two to three degrees. “They didn’t even get to two degrees at Dublin airport. It was an exceptional cold March day. I don’t think we’ve had as cold as this in years,” he said.

The southwest fared better, with temperatures of up to seven degrees. Today is expected to be more of the same, but slightly warmer than yesterday.

“It will be cold and dry with temperatures still way below normal. A bit higher than today, tomorrow will be in the three to six degree range and I think it will be a bit brighter.”

While there was a chance of a snow shower in the east of the country, most places would be dry. “Temperatures will stay low for the week, gradually climbing up to five or six degrees by Friday.”

The bad weather has escalated the fodder shortage faced by some farmers and Teagasc has warned that it had caused a crisis situation on some farms. Its nutritional specialist Siobhán Kavanagh said a lot of farmers couldn’t make enough silage last year because of the bad weather, and if they did make enough, the quality was very poor because of the heavy rainfall.

Cattle were being kept indoors since last September because of the weather, and now farmers couldn’t let their animals out because there was no grass growth. She said silage and feed was running out and many people were concerned about cash flow. There were also concerns about animal welfare and worries that the lack of grass and silage would affect cows and heifers going into calf soon.

Ms Kavanagh said sheep farmers were also struggling because they had to keep newborn lambs inside for longer because of the weather. They were running out of space, as more lambs were born. She urged farmers in trouble to contact Teagasc, even if they were not clients, and said banks were willing to offer short-term loans.

IFA deputy president Eddie Downey called on co-ops, feed mills and banks to stand by their farmer customers. “Farmers should take stock of what winter fodder they have, and if they have surplus, they should make it available now to those who are in short supply,” he said.