8 tips to ensure your smallholding is protected this winter

We know you’ll face many challenges in your day-to-day work but as winter appears, pressure tends to increase for the farming community. With the weather increasingly unpredictable and shorter days, it can become more challenging to maintain the upkeep of your smallholding. Here, we remind you of some of the simple things to help you keep on top of things as the temperature drops.

  1. Buildings & Farmyards

Ensure your buildings can with withstand the more extreme weather conditions. Check roofs for loose tiles and cracks to avoid leakage and ensure that anything else that may come loose is tied down. Also, if we have a spell of frosty/icy conditions, it is important to make sure you clear away entrances to buildings and farmyards; it can also be helpful to make use of grit where possible to ensure you and vehicles have safer access.

  1. Ensure Machinery is kept securely

During winter, it is recommended that you keep your machinery in secure buildings to avoid damage from falling trees, extreme weather and flooding. We also generally advise the use of internal locks, which can help protect against theft. For your safety, machinery should be serviced regularly, as well as taking care of general maintenance like adding anti-freeze, checking your lights and indicators are working and considering the use of reflective clothing and stickers. These measures can protect against loss in terms of theft or damage but more importantly, personal injury.

  1. Stock up on food & bedding

Ensure you have plenty of food and bedding available for your livestock in preparation before the snow and ice hits; this will reduce unnecessary trips for you or others. In addition, depending on the type of harvest we have had, straw may be harder to source and a little more expensive. It is worthwhile purchasing straw which has come straight from the field as this is usually cheaper. Some types of livestock will happily spend winter outside if they have adequate shelter and are fed regularly. If you have a small number of livestock on your smallholding, it may be possible to take feed out in small amounts on a daily basis; however, larger numbers may require large bales within a feeder to help you keep on top of their appetite. Having said this, the area around feeders can become muddy and wet, and so it’s advisable to move these regularly to avoid any unwanted mishaps and injuries.

  1. Water flow

Check that pipes are adequately insulated to ensure they aren’t going to freeze, and your water continues to flow for both you and your crops/livestock. This is also important to avoid burst pipes which could lead to damage and claims.

  1. Pests

As the weather gets colder, pests look for food and warmth. Ensure your feed is kept in bins and clean up any spillages as soon as possible to avoid encouraging a family of rats and mice onto your smallholding. Farm cats can help to control any vermin or you may need to result in more severe methods if you find that you have a larger problem.

  1. Lone Working Safety

Darker evenings tend to set in just after 4pm so it’s important to carry a torch with you and avoid any hazardous areas and rough terrain. Thermal layers, suitable footwear, and Hi-Vis are recommended for dark, cold and icy conditions. It is also strongly advised to carry your mobile phone, fully charged, in case of an emergency, and telling someone where you are heading and how long you are expecting to be.

  1. Thieves

We have seen an 11% rise in rural crime since the beginning of Coronavirus Pandemic, as well as darker nights often leading to an increase in theft. Ensure you are locking away valuable equipment in secure buildings, remove all keys from vehicles, including ATVs, and make sure any alarm systems and CCTV cameras are in full working order. We provide more tips to protect your farm against crime, here.

  1. Have the right protection in place

At McClarrons, we have a dedicated rural team who offer our clients independent advice on their insurance protection. We have been operating in the farming sector for over 30 years, with our head office in Malton, North Yorkshire, we now have nationwide reach with a growing number of remote Account Executives.

We work with a large variety of farming and equestrian businesses across the country, giving us the experience and knowledge to understand your risks and advise on the relevant cover.

At McClarrons, we also have access to Rural Protect Elements, a product that supports smaller rural businesses facing challenges from regulatory bodies, administrative and legal issues. There are so many regulations within the rural sector and farming businesses must work responsibly to meet these standards. Rural Protect Elements gives you free access to leading law firm rradar, providing support and in-depth legal advice with access to digital tools to educate, manage and advise farmers to help manage your risks. You also get access to rradarstation, where you can speak to expert legal advisors over the phone or via email, as well as online services offering guidance on running a rural business.

If you would like a complimentary review of your smallholding insurances, you can contact our Farm Team on 01653 609152 or by emailing farm@mcclarroninsurance.com.

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