Andrew Burleigh: Thoughts go to Spence family after accident

Every Northern Ireland farming family’s thoughts, sympathy and prayers are with the Spence family, who on 15 September lost a father and two sons when they were overcome by slurry gas fumes.

We all think “it will not happen to me”, but I would urge everyone working in an agricultural setting to adhere to health and safety rules at all times.

A lapse in concentration, a faulty guard or a do-rightly attitude can in a split second lead to a lifetime of broken hearts.

Suckle calf sales are now under way, with calves just not as good quality as other years. I suppose this is not surprising after the summer we have had.

We have stock housed all the cattle except for eight heifers and four in-calf cows. A long winter looms. You can really see the calves thrive that have been housed since the third week in August. It’s hard to beat a dry bed at night, indoors, with no rain beating down on their backs and plenty of silage at their head.

In the shop there is a noted increase in sales of shin, stew and hot dinner meats and all the vegetables that go along with them. This is because of the drop in temperatures. Pork product prices are on the increase because of the higher cost of inputs to the farmer, and these extra costs have to be passed on to the consumer.

As I finish, can I leave this thought with everyone involved in farming: always keep health and safety to the forefront of your mind. You can replace an animal, but you cannot mend a broken heart.

Andrew Burleigh farms a mixed farm and runs a traditional butchers shop in south-west Fermanagh with his wife, Rosalind, and sons Alan and Lee. The home farm is run by his brother and nephew, and is home to a Beltex pedigree flock along side a commercial flock, suckler cows, stores and beef cattle.

More on this topic

For more articles from Andrew Burleigh

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers


See more