Heatwave costing farmers in Sheffield up to £1,000 extra a week

Stephen Thompson, of Moss Valley Fine Meats
Stephen Thompson, of Moss Valley Fine Meats
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Farmers in Sheffield are struggling in the heatwave, as they shell out up to £1,000 a week extra keeping their animals fed.

They have spoken of the 'challenging' conditions they face keeping their animals safe and happy during one of Britain's hottest and driest summers on record.

Dan and Eddie Andrew, of Our Cow Molly

Dan and Eddie Andrew, of Our Cow Molly

Stephen Thompson, who owns Moss Valley Fine Meats, said the exceptionally wet spring followed by a bone dry summer meant he had been spending £1,000 a week extra since Christmas buying food for the 2,000 pigs at his farm.

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Even if this weekend does bring the forecast downpours, he and other farmers say that will provide little relief with a hard winter almost certainly lying in store given food reserves have been so badly depleted.

"Our food bill's up massively and it doesn't seem like it's going down any time soon, which is quite worrying, but there's nothing we can do about the weather," said Mr Thompson.

"Even if we get some rain this weekend it will be too late because we won't get lush grass growing again."

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Mr Thompson said the extra cost was down to a mixture of being able to produce fewer crops himself for his pigs and the rising price of animal feed.

He said meat prices in the UK would almost certainly rise as a result, especially with livestock farmers across Europe experiencing similar problems.

And he urged people to take care not to leave bottles lying around in the countryside as they could spark a fire which would be the 'final nail in the coffin' for him and other farmers in the region.

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Eddie Andrew, at Our Cow Molly in Dungworth, which has around 90 cattle, told how times were tough and it had to bring in a dietitian to ensure the animals are getting sufficient nutrients.

"It's been challenging but it just means a lot more attention to detail when you're caring for cows in the hot weather," he said.

But he claimed the farm had been less severely affected than others since it had a relatively large amount of grazing space per cow and plenty of trees providing shade, while the extra cost of feeding the animals had been offset by a spike in sales of ice cream produced at the farm.

Over at Heeley City Farm, Sarah Wild said extra care was being taken to ensure all animals had enough shade and water.

She said a special canopy was being built to provide extra shelter for its turkeys, who were suffering worst in the heat, while an event its animals were due to attend today had been cancelled to avoid causing them unnecessary stress and discomfort.

Rachel Hallos, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) chairwoman for the West Riding region, which includes Sheffield, said the shortage of feed meant farmers were having to make difficult decisions now about which animals they would be able to keep over the winter.

"It's this winter when most farmers will really start feeling the pinch. It will be a case of farmers pulling together to help each other out where they can, and asking consumers to buy British to support them," she added.