NFU Mutual has come up with a list of tips for farmers, in response to the Met Office’s warning that this winter may be colder than average.

Sid  Gibson pointed out that country properties tended to be particularly vulnerable to storm and freeze  damage. 

“They are often in isolated locations where they are exposed to the full force of the elements, and unlike urban properties they rarely have other  buildings around them to provide a degree of protection from the worst winter weather.

“As well as damage to the property itself, rural homes are at greater risk of disruption to their power supply when exposed electricity cables are brought down by high winds – or the weight of snow on the lines.

Mr Gibson said the first priority should be to keep homes well maintained.

“Keeping up to date with repairs like fixing loose slates and re-pointing chimneys can prevent major damage if storm force winds strike or there is a heavy snow  fall,” he said.

“The same applies to garages, outbuildings and commercial buildings where loose or damaged sheeting can lead to the loss of a building in a severe storm.”

Mr Gibson said was also important to regularly check the condition of trees on a farmer’s land – and to take action if they are in a dangerous state.

Burst pipes were a problem that could cause tremendous damage to the furnishings and fabric of homes so it was well worth having insulation checked over before winter set in.

“Unlagged pipes in lofts which have been insulated are the most common cause of burst  pipes but homes which are left unoccupied and empty holiday cottages are also at risk.

“Many  people have recently put in extra insulation to control their heating costs as fuel prices rise. This can mean that pipes and water tanks in  loft  spaces become exposed to lower temperatures as they are usually situated above the insulation.

“So if you put in more insulation, make sure that tanks and pipes get extra insulation too.”