Connacht IFA chair and dairy farmer, Patrick Murphy, contracted Covid-19 in January 2021.
Luckily, he could continue farming his 100-strong dairy herd in Ardrahan Co. Galway, as his symptoms were mild, and he had no outside employees present.
Pat spoke to That’s Farming and highlighted how important it is for farmers to have a plan in place if they contract the virus and what actions can be undertaken to contract and control its spread.
Farmer contracts Covid-19
Patrick was tested for Covid-19 on New Year’s Eve; his wife, Anna, had been sick just after Christmas. He received a positive test result back on New Year’s Day.
“I had very mild symptoms; I had a sore throat, a little bit of a headache and developed a runny nose after that. Nothing that I was very concerned about that. I wouldn’t put down to a normal head cold on a normal year.”
“I was lucky as I continued to farm and did not have to stop. We were in our own bubble, and I was not going anywhere only out to the sheds. Also, I do not have any outside employees, so luckily, I was not impacted that way.”
“My isolation period finished on January 13th, and I was in good form at that stage, but I will say I do feel in better form since. My daughter, Ciara, had to self-isolate because everyone in the house had it but her.”
“She had to stay away from us so she would not contract Covid-19, and that was what we found the toughest. Do not underestimate self-isolating; it can be very lonely staying away from people.”
Have a plan
It is now more important than ever for farmers to have a plan in place in these uncertain times, especially with calving and lambing underway.
Patrick stressed that farmers should not take this lightly, and you could transmit the virus to someone else without knowing.
“It is imperative to have a plan in place. I was one of the lucky ones who was not too sick. My wife, Anna, has been out of work for five weeks and is not back to work yet. If I had been as sick as her, I would not have been able to get up and do the jobs.”
“I would have had losses, and probably I would not have been caring for my animals properly. So, having a plan is essential. I was lucky as I did not have a plan in place, but I would have to have one again if it happened. Speak to a neighbour or put something in place.”
Murphy said he one of those people who thought he was not going to contract the virus because he was “trying to do everything right”, wearing face masks/coverings and adhering to lockdown measures.
“I was lucky, but Covid-19 impacts different people in different ways. The four of us in the house got sick, and three of us were not too bad, but Anna was very drained.”
“If a farmer contracts Covid-19 and has sort of experience when trying to farm to calve cows at a busy time of the year, you will not be able to function, whether you are a dairy, suckler or sheep farming.”
“If Covid-19 hits you hard, it will take the wind out of your sails. Have a plan in place and try to do any work you have to prepare for calving or lambing. Do not put it off; do it now.” Patrick concluded.
Read another farmer’s experience of Covid-19 by clicking here.