While the winter months provide good opportunities to complete seasonal jobs, it can pose additional risks to farmers and farm workers, writes NFU Cymru Brecon and Radnor County Adviser Stella Owen.

It is during this time of year that accidents can easily happen, and we should all take extra care when completing jobs. The shorter days can often mean that work is taking place during hours of darkness, which in itself is a challenge. If possible, try to complete any essential tasks during daylight hours, or ensure there is sufficient artificial light to allow the work to take place safely.

It might also help to compile a checklist of emergency contacts, key holders, neighbours, vets, plumbers, contractors etc. and pinning it up where anyone can access it. Have a selection of spare keys to hand as well for ball valves, isolation valves, pipework and joints.

Following the recent cold weather, now is the time to become winter ready on all livestock farms. The lining of pipes, preparing sheds for stock and ensuring winter keep is well fenced are fundamentals of the routine.

Keeping vehicles, machinery and equipment well maintained is one of the best ways of helping to keep you and others on farm safe all year round, but especially during the colder months. This can apply to any piece of equipment you run, for instance tractors, trailers, ATVs, towed appliances, farm vehicles, hand-held machines, etc.

It is always good to have a look at your farm security when the nights are darker as farms can be easy targets to thieves. Keeping high-value goods out of sight and making sure all your kit is security marked is a good start. An up-to-date list of all your valuables will help if you do become a victim of crime, and photos of expensive ATVs will assist police in the search to find and return them.

Dawn-to-dusk security lights are a good idea, along with CCTV and decent locks on outbuildings and fuel stores. Make sure field gates have capping hinges so they cannot be easily removed and lock cattle grids out of position when they are not being used. Thieves target electric fences as they can be sold easily as second hand or for scrap, so disguise them with branches, mark it in several places to make it less attractive and secure the energiser to a fixed point. Some police recommend securing boundary fences so that there is only one single, gated access onto the farm, and they recommend locking posts to obstruct large entrances to yards.