An Aghalee farmer has paid tribute to the NI Fire and Rescue Service after they saved 72 of his pigs from a slurry pit.
Nigel Grant was carrying out routine jobs on his Ballinderry Road farm on Sunday morning when he went into one of his pig houses and noticed more than 70 of his pigs had disappeared.
Speaking to AgriLand, Grant said: “I went into the pen yesterday morning at 11:00am and noticed the pigs weren’t there, the floor had collapsed.
There were 80 pigs in the pen weighing about 100kg each, and Grant said there were only five or six in the pen when he went into the shed.
About 75 pigs had fallen into the tank and about 73 of them were saved.
Grant explained that the concrete head on which the slats were sitting, broke and gave way, causing two rows of slats to collapse and fall into the slurry tank below.
Grant was quick to react when he realised what had just happened.
“I steadied myself for two or three minutes and said to myself, ‘well, this is a fire brigade job’,” Grant added.
He immediately told a neighbor to contact the emergency services, while he prepared a rescue plan.
The NIFRS said 74 pigs, each weighing approximately 100kg, had fallen into a pit containing approximately three feet of slurry.
NIFRS Large Animal Rescue Teams from Newcastle and Omagh Fire Stations, the Specialist Rescue Team from Central Fire Station and Fire Crews from Lurgan, Crumlin and Newcastle Fire Stations worked for nearly seven hours in ‘a protracted and challenging incident’.
A NIFRS spoksperson said: “Firefighters from the Animal Rescue Teams wore breathing apparatus and used rescue lines to pull the animals free from the slurry pit. Gas monitors were used throughout the incident to continually monitor gas levels from the slurry.
“Firefighters rescued 72 pigs and 2 pigs died. In terms of animal numbers this is largest animal rescue incident attended by NIFRS.
“Farm animals in distress can pose a serious risk to farmer or anyone else attempting to rescue them. Slurry incidents in particular pose their own serious risks given the dangerous gases that can be present in slurry.
“We would advise farmers not to attempt to rescue animals in these situations and to call 999 for assistance.
Nigel added that he couldn’t praise the animal rescue and emergency services enough.