East Anglian sheep farmers battle ‘some of worst conditions in living memory’

The Benacre sheep flock huddling for warmth during the snowy weather. Picture: TIM CRICK

The Benacre sheep flock huddling for warmth during the snowy weather. Picture: TIM CRICK - Credit: Archant

Heroic farmers have been out in force across East Anglia, helping out stranded motorists and tending to their livestock as the Beast from the East grips the region.

The Benacre sheep flock huddling for warmth during the snowy weather. Picture: TIM CRICK

The Benacre sheep flock huddling for warmth during the snowy weather. Picture: TIM CRICK - Credit: Archant

Sheep farmers battled against some of the worst weather conditions in living memory, and faced roads blocked by abandoned vehicles as they strove to get feed to their animals.

Benacre sheep farmer Tim Crick, whose large sheep flock graze across fields stretching as far north as Great Yarmouth and as far south as the River Orwell, was working flat-out this week to ensure the wellbeing of his livestock.

He and his helpers were making regular checks on the sheep to ensure they could get access to their feed and didn’t stray as snow drifts covered barbed wire fences used to pen them in.

Tim, who faced two road blocks along the A12 to get to sheep at Toby Walks at Walberswick on Thursday (March 1), said he managed to get through using side roads and fields.

Some of Benacre sheep farmer Tim Crick's other animals take shelter during the snowy weather. Pictur

Some of Benacre sheep farmer Tim Crick's other animals take shelter during the snowy weather. Picture: TIM CRICK - Credit: Archant


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“We’re not doing too badly,” he said. “The sheep are on winter vegetables at the moment. It’s just a case of making sure they have enough to eat. The snow will drift over the feed and it also drifts over the fence.”

He was hoping that by the weekend, better weather would arrive.

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“The sheep on average they’ll dig down and get to feed,” he said. “As time goes on it becomes more difficult for them.”

The animals’ health was fine, with ewes not due to lamb until April, he said. However, if the cold spell continues it could have knock-on effects for feeding and for grazing later on.

NEW BEGINNINGS: Tim Crick who farms the pastureland at Benacre Hall, Wrentham, welcomes the first sp

NEW BEGINNINGS: Tim Crick who farms the pastureland at Benacre Hall, Wrentham, welcomes the first spring lambs with his sheepdog puppy. Two years ago Benacre had to destroy 400 sheep suspected of carrying foot and mouth, although tests later proved none was infectious. Sheep farmers are hoping the industry will recover now they have restocked. - Credit: Archant

“Hopefully, April will be a different world,” he said.

March was not looking like a mild month this year, he said. “By April, we might be struggling for grass.”

Andrew Foulds, whose sheep herds span Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, described the conditions as “character-forming”.

“These are some of the worst conditions I have had in 50 years of doing this job,” he said.

Andrew Foulds at Elveden estate. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Andrew Foulds at Elveden estate. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“But we have got a superb team of good, young shepherds who go out in all weathers and get the job done.”

Meanwhile, farmers across the region were doing what they could to help out stranded motorists by clearing roads, and helping them get vehicles out of snowdrifts.

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