Natural England reminds farmers in ES schemes that they can supplementary feed their livestock in severe cold weather

Natural England has confirmed that in the event of further heavy snowfall this winter then livestock farmers - who may have an agri-environment agreement that includes restrictions on carrying out supplementary feeding - would be able to provide their livestock with additional feed.  This would be a temporary relaxation for the duration of any severe cold weather period and it will not be necessary to contact Natural England for consent before carrying out supplementary feeding under these circumstances.

Natural England isalso  temporarily lifting some of the land management requirements that normally apply to Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements, so that farmers and growers have more flexibility to deal with the impact of this winter’s extreme weather.

Derogations for supplementary feeding in winter:
Under normal circumstances farmers and land managers are asked to contact Natural England prior to undertaking any activity which is not part of their agri-environment agreement.  Although, it will not be necessary for most farmers to contact Natural England for consent for supplementary feeding in the event of further snowfall this winter, farmers on SSSI-designated land are asked to contact their Natural England adviser before undertaking supplementary feeding.  Any farmers seeking further information or advice should contact their local Natural England office.

Wherever possible, land not under agri-environment land management options should be used first for supplementary feeding.  Where this is not possible, agri-environment land can be used for supplementary feeding, but to reduce damage to environmental features Natural England is offering the following guidance:

  • Supplementary feeding areas should be moved whenever possible;

  • Any leftover forage should be completely removed to reduce damage to the sward after the snow has thawed;

  • Feeding on archaeological features should be avoided;

  • On moorland and common land, where landowners restrict the practice of supplementary feeding, graziers should consider whether to inform them of their intention to feed during this period of adverse weather;

  • Supplementary feeding may continue for four days after the snow has cleared if the ground remains frozen. It should cease once the ground thaws

  • Farmers on SSSI-designated land should contact their Natural England adviser before undertaking supplementary feeding;

For more information see Natural England's website