Sheep in snow Scotland

Almost 50,000 farm animals are now feared to have perished in last month’s snow storms – nearly double the number initially thought to have been lost.

Some 17,633 animals died in Northern Ireland alone, suggest figures released by the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development on Friday (12 April).

At least 21,750 cattle, sheep and lambs are believed to have been killed in upland areas of England, Wales and Scotland.

The figures for Britain are based on initial estimates from the National Fallen Stock Company. They are expected to rise because they do not include losses during April.

Meanwhile, some 8,000 animals are estimated to have perished on the Isle of Man.

The storms began on 21 March, leaving livestock buried in snowdrifts up to 20ft deep in places.

The Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man have each put together emergency aid packages for their farmers. But no financial aid has been forthcoming for producers in England and Wales.

The Stormont Executive has agreed an aid package worth up to £5m to help Northern Irish farmers who have suffered financial loss due to fallen livestock.

Meanwhile, Scotland has put together a £500,000 package.

Phil Gawne, the Isle of Man’s farm minister, has estimated that the cost to its farming community would be about £750,000.

Mr Gawne said 3,200 carcasses – 3,000 sheep and 200 cattle – had been recovered on the island and the death toll could rise to 8,000 over the coming weeks.

Many animals remained missing for weeks after the storms. While some were dug out alive a fortnight after the storms, carcasses are continuing to be found now.

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