Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Snow-hit Manx farmers could take four years to recover

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Media captionMore than 16,000 cattle and sheep died after the heavy snow in March

A farmer who lost more than 40% of his flock during March's heavy snow in the Isle of Man has said it could take four years to fully recover.

According to the National Farmers Union about 17,000 animals died in the heaviest recorded snowfall in the island since 1963.

The loss was amplified by the fact it was the lambing and calving season.

Hill farmer Danny Creer lost more than 400 sheep and said the knock-on effect has been "massive".

He said: "Six months on and the effects are ongoing. We would normally be selling lambs right through until December but we are already done for this year."

According to the Manx government the impact of extreme weather cost the farming community more than £1m.

Agriculture minister Phil Gawne said Manx farmers are still "counting the cost of the disaster".

About 90% of the Isle of Man is given over to agricultural production with about 450 farms, some with thousands of livestock.

John Kennaugh, who has farmed in St John's all his life, said: "It was the worst and most prolonged spell of bad weather I have ever witnessed. We had 11 wet months followed by the terrible snow.

"It hit us in the middle of lambing and calving and we lost so many we stopped counting.

"It was very stressful but at least with the wonderful summer we have managed to turn out some animals. It has been a remarkable turnaround."

During the bad weather members of the public helped to dig out animals trapped in deep snow drifts.

The Isle of Man government has since awarded £600,000 of aid to help farmers who suffered the worst losses.

Mr Gawne said about 100 farmers have benefited from the money.

The National Farmers Union estimate that 12% of the national breeding flock, and 18% of this year's lamb crop was lost.

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