More than 500 cattle have been evacuated from flood-hit farms on the Somerset Levels just days since Sedgemoor Market open its doors offering temporary shelter.

It comes as weather forecasters predict heavy rain will continue overnight in the South West, bringing a fresh deluge of water to already saturated areas.

Auctioneer Robert Venner said beef farmer James Winslade transported more than 500 of his cattle from his farm in Moorland to the livestock centre near Bridgwater on Thursday (6 February).

The treacherous five-mile journey along flooded roads had to be completed using tractor-trailer convoys because the water was so deep.

The cattle were then rehomed with 10 farmers in the area. Mr Venner said they have tried to find sheds close to each other to make it easier for the owners to feed their evacuated stock.

A further 15 suckler cows and 10 calves have been forced to be rehomed from Hales farm, Bridgwater.

The market is also acting as a point of call for forage deliveries and pick-ups.

Mr Venner said the support from local farmers and businesses has been “absolutely staggering”.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, he said: “People have been ringing up and offering accommodation. Some are still coming forward now.”

Mr Venner said he contacted several hauliers to help transport stock from the market to dry shelter and “not one of them said no.”

“One guy came down all the way from Bristol with a tractor and trailer and helped with the initial evacuation.”

South-west spokesman for the NFU, Ian Johnson, said the flooding and misery caused to farmers and homeowners was “completely avoidable.”

He added: “If they hadn’t let the rivers silt up and abandoned dredging there would have been somewhere for the water to go. You have to ask yourselves who is running the Environment Agency?

“Chris Smith coming down here and making noise about how valiant his staff are is not going to help the situation. People that run the EA should be brought to book.”

Mr Johnson added the dramatic pictures broadcast by media outlets had forced the government and EA into action.

He added: “Lord Smith would still be sat in his ivory tower somewhere.”

Find out how you can help flood-hit farmers