Local Farmers Count the Cost of Harsh Winter
FARMERS around Huddersfield are counting the cost of the harsh winter – and praying for an early spring.
The early snow and prolonged freezing conditions have led to costs soaring and shortages of fodder on some local farms.
A further problem has been the severe frosts which, coupled with heavy winds, have caused drystone walls throughout the area to collapse.
Heavy early snowfalls in November meant that local farmers had to bring their cattle indoors several weeks early and give extra feed to sheep in the snowy fields.
According to the Met Office, last December was the coldest one for over 100 years.
Haylage (a moist, wrapped hay) and silage costs have soared over the winter as the big freeze continued. Prices are up about 50% on last year, with a large bale of haylage currently fetching from £25 to £40 locally, depending on supply.
Honley-based Robert Nobles, group secretary for the Huddersfield and Saddleworth area of farming union the NFU, says these are tight times.
“The early onset of winter with heavy snow starting back in November has resulted in cattle being brought in early and sheep requiring supplementary feeding.
“This has meant that fodder has become very expensive – if you can find it. Some individual farms are struggling to get any at all.
“In addition, the dry summer led a to a lack of growth, so straw prices are up as well. It is an expensive time for livestock farmers.