Snow storm: Sheep death toll reaches 20,000

Farmers trying to reach livestock with hay Many farmers faced serious dangers as they tried to reach their animals

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More than 20,000 sheep were lost in the recent snow blizzard, and it may be next month before all the dead animals are found and counted.

The news emerged at a meeting of the agriculture committee at Stormont.

It is estimated that almost 800 farms were affected by the severe snow storm.

With snow still lying in some high parts of Northern Ireland, dead animals are still being recovered, but the committee heard that one sheep was found alive 25 days after the blizzard.

An official from the Department of Agriculture told the committee that as of 14: BST on Tuesday, the number of dead animals collected was:

  • 20,179 sheep (including 15,195 lambs)
  • 603 cattle

In total, approximately 790 farms were affected.

A number of farmers from the National Sheep Association gave evidence to the committee.

They said it would be next month before all the animals could be collected because of the snow.

One veteran farmer, John Blaney, said: "It's the slowest thaw I can remember."

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