More than 2,000 farm animals are now believed to have drowned in this month’s floods which engulfed north-west England.
The Fallen Stock Company, which provides a nationwide service for the collection and disposal of deadstock, said it believed 2,000 sheep and 100 cattle had perished in the flood water.
The latest estimate was supplied to Farmers Weekly on Tuesday (15 December).
Rivers burst their banks, destroying stone walls, bridges farm buildings and vehicles after Storm Desmond hit Cumbria and north Lancashire on 4-6 December.
A gauge at Honister Pass recorded 341.4mm of rainfall in the 24-hours up to 6pm on Saturday 5 December – equivalent to a month’s rain in a single day.
News of the death toll comes as the Forage Aid charity, which supplies emergency livestock feed and bedding to farmers hit by the storm, repeated its call for feed and fodder.
“It is very bad in places – there are many more animal fatalities than many people envisaged,” said Forage Aid founder Andrew Ward.
“Thousands of sheep have died or are missing – a lot of people I have spoken to believe they have been washed out into the Irish Sea.”
So far, the charity had received 200 pledges from farmers wanting to donate forage, said Mr Ward, with nine livestock markets in Cumbria signed up as distribution depots for supplies.
“We have got three main sites that we are going to use – with a JCB, forklift and tractor and trailer at each of them,” said Mr Ward.
“We are using the livestock market at Junction 36 on the M6, the market at Penrith and Mitchells at Cockermouth – they form a triangle across Cumbria.”
But Mr Ward said it was important that farmers wanting to donate feed and bedding should do so through the Forage Aid website – and not turn up at the depots unannounced.