Storms Killed 43,000 Sheep in Northern Ireland, Government Says

Storms last month in the U.K. killed at least 43,000 sheep and goats in Northern Ireland, after animals were stranded by snowdrifts at the time in early spring when lambs are typically born.

About 30,413 lambs and 12,587 ewes, rams and goats were killed after storms in late March, according to preliminary data released today by Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture and Rural Development. About 1,159 cattle also were killed. The government hasn’t finished tallying the number of animals.

Livestock losses in the U.K. in the first three months of this year totaled 148,647 sheep, up 15 percent from the same period a year earlier, and 82,883 cattle, up 6.1 percent, according to an April 3 report from the National Fallen Stock Company, a non-profit agency established by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Statistics may be higher as carcasses are unmasked by melting snow, the company said.

As of December, Northern Ireland had about 1.3 million sheep and lambs, 2.5 percent more than a year earlier, according to the agriculture department.

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said the department will pay for the collection and disposal of the dead animals. Defra has said it will make as much as 250,000 pounds ($387,225) available to farmers in England for the cost of removing killed sheep.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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