Following a wet summer in parts of Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural affairs (DAERA) is organising a number of information evenings on planning winter management.

The evenings will focus on issues such as animal health, feed management and efficiency and business management.

This summer has been particularly difficult for farmers with heavy rainfall making conditions difficult for farmers, according to Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIIveen.

The summer weather of 2016 in Northern Ireland definitely delivered an east-west split with significantly more rainfall in some areas.

"Farmers particularly in Co. Fermanagh, Co. Tyrone and north west Co. Derry faced challenging conditions all summer due to water logged soils from prolonged heavy rain,” she said.

The information evenings are being organised by DAERA, in conjunction with the banks and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

Despite grass growth being relatively good, the wet weather made it difficult for farmers to utilise, Minister McIIveen said.

Cattle had to be re-housed on several occasions to try and minimise ground damage.

"Silage making was badly disrupted with a number of farmers only harvesting second cuts in early October thanks to the settled spell of weather.

"While the majority of farms will have sufficient quantity of silage, quality is poor due to the impact of the weather and delayed cutting.

“The wet conditions will also have increased the risk of a number of animal health issues including, liver fluke, clostridial, pneumonia, lameness and general ill-thrift," she said.

Farmers have incurred increased costs from additional meal feeding, veterinary treatments, fuel, slurry handling and from repairing damaged swards

"This increase in costs coupled to reduced farm output has put further pressure on the farm cashflow.”

While the information evenings are open to all, farmers who are currently not taking part in Business Development Groups are especially advised to consider attending.

Meetings will all commence at 8pm and are due to be held in the:

  • Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh, Co. Tyrone on October 27.
  • Roe Park Resort, Limavady, Co. Derry on November 1.
  • Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh on November 2.