FARMERS across Yorkshire were left counting the cost of a cold snap this week which saw hundreds of lambs killed and thousands of rural and farming businesses left without power.
Despite having basked in temperatures in excess of 20 degrees a few days before, heavy snow fell overnight on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday morning across much of the region.
Much of the North York Moors, parts of the Yorkshire Dales and areas across West Yorkshire were blanketed with snow.
Electricity was lost to homes and businesses across the North York Moors national park, with the Esk Valley region said to have been particularly badly affected and roads became impassable.
The freezing weather meant many lambs were lost around the region.
Until this week conditions for lambing were superb but many farmers found their flocks trapped in fields following the rapid snowfall with reports of stock being lost around Malham, Huddersfield and Saddleworth – as well as in the North York Moors national park.
A spokeswoman for the park told the Yorkshire Post: “It does seem that a number of lambs were lost overnight due to the snow.
“Obviously the lack of power exacerbated that problem. If the snow had happened at the start of lambing season it might have been different. We have had reports of farmers who were out looking for lambs at 11pm to midnight with torches, trying to bring them in.
“However if there was no power for the houses or farm buildings then they would not even have been able to get them warm in there.”
The National Farmers Union’s York office said that conditions had varied widely across the region and that the combination of so many lambs having been born early and the speed at which the snow fell meant that it was inevitable that some stock would tragically be lost.
The snowfall however is not anticipated however to have a particularly negative effect on arable farmers who have been crying out for rain due to two successive dry winters.
An NFU spokeswoman said that as the snow had not persisted for several days it should in theory give parched lands around the region much needed moisture.
“When the ground is that hard and dry heavy rain can often just run off of it,” she said,
“But with the snow it is more likely to melt and be absorbed.
“From a grower’s point of view they will be grateful. It is difficult to put a figure on how many lambs will have been effected and it will vary region to region.”