THE CLA is advising its farming and rural landowning members to “winter proof” their businesses as sustained colder weather with patchy snowfall hits the region.

The organisation, which represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the North, has issued some basic advice in helping those who make a living in the countryside to make their farm businesses more resilient this winter.

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “We’ve escaped the worst of the weather so far, but we can’t afford to be complacent, especially with current warnings of snow and ice.

“Farmers and landowners with livestock and buildings, especially those in more isolated areas or away from main roads, should be looking now at what threats severe weather could bring and not wait for the big freeze.

“Of course, a lot of our advice is based on common sense, but more often than not, busy farmers don’t always consider the impact that severe weather can have on their livelihoods.”

The CLA’s advice urge farmers and rural business owners to consider the following:

* Identify vulnerable buildings in exposed areas and carry out maintenance work such as roof repairs to ensure they can withstand heavy gales or snowfall.

* Winter-proof machines. Make sure tyres have sufficient tread, that there is plenty of fuel in the tanks and that they are topped up with antifreeze as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

* Ensure all necessary access points can be kept open. Not just on to the road but also to stock buildings and where essential machinery is kept.

* Identify locations where out-wintered stock will try to shelter in bad weather, and ensure they are safe. Consider if there is somewhere safer or more accessible to move them and put weather-proof stores of feed in appropriate places.

* Ensure there are adequate livestock feed supplies if deliveries are affected, or stock has to be brought inside. This also applies to supplies of bedding.

* Make a plan if existing water supplies are affected. If it includes the use of bowsers, make sure they can get to outlying stock and they will be frost proofed.

* Ensure that fuel tanks and stores are secure in extreme conditions. Consider emergency generators if necessary.

* Make sure there is sufficient space in your slurry stores should bad weather prevent spreading.

* Speak to your neighbours about joint contingency plans.

* Check your insurance is up to date and adequate.