Spring has arrived on the farm - Jonathan Graham from AbbeyAutoline

​April is a month of new arrivals on the farm, conacre is being set for the year and cattle are doing that awkward ‘dance’ of freedom when the gate is opened and they are put out to graze after a winter housed. Spring has finally arrived on the farm, writes Jonathan Graham of AbbeyAutoline Agriculture.
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With the first flurry of lambing season in early March, phase two for many farmers comes this month as they ready the farm to welcome more new arrivals. It’s calving season too and, with the increased head count, the work load rapidly increases.

Safety should always be a concern on the farm, but particularly if working closely with cows and their new calves. The advice from the Farm Safety Partnership is to maintain good handling facilities and holding pens, along with ensuring crushes are in good working order. They also advise you to always have an escape plan and never turn your back on a cow following calving.

With the burst of new arrivals this month, it’s important in insurance terms that you consider that the livestock sums insured on your policy reflects the value of the herd or flock you farm. For example, if you normally have 100 ewes and add 150 lambs this year, you need to base your livestock sum insured value on the maximum livestock, at any one time, during the year.

Jonathan GrahamJonathan Graham
Jonathan Graham

Conacre is the other hot topic this month. For some it’ll be resetting an agreement that spans decades, for others it’ll be a race to secure more land against heavy competition. Whichever the case, the negotiation is always fierce.

If you do ‘take’ land in conacre this month, it’s advisable to check that you’ve accounted for that in your acres declared in the Public Liability section of your farm policy. The acreage is used as a rating factor for Public Liability – so if you have 50 acres but you lease 50 more, you need to specify 100 acres to accurately cover your Public Liability requirement.

If you are the land owner, setting ground to other farmers, it’s important to note your duty of care is not ‘handed over’ to the farming tenant. You need to ensure that you, as the landowner, have public liability in place. If the landowner employs any help e.g., with maintenance then employers’ liability may also be required.

It is worth noting, that it is possible to make a mid-term adjustment to your farm combined policy, during the 12-month contract of insurance, should you lease in or buy additional land.

With cattle going out to graze, perhaps on conacre land away from the farm, livestock in transit and livestock fatal injury straying are other types of cover that hold more significance at this time of the year. This part of your policy, gives you financial protection against fatal injury if, for example, a cow becomes injured when loading a trailer, there is an accident on the road which results in injured livestock or if an animal strays out onto a road and is killed.

With the clocks springing forward an hour, farmers can look forward to longer evenings and the hopeful anticipation of a bit of better weather. I for one am looking forward to seeing the family suckler herd put out to grass and the end of the winter routine of feeding and cleaning.

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