FARMERS say they have been forced to shell out thousands on food for their cattle and are struggling to grow crops in the freezing weather.

Agricultural land has been damaged by the cold and huge deluges of snow, with some farmers reporting cattle deaths.

One farmer said he was shelling out twice as much as he was taking in. Allan Starkie, 74, who owns A C & N Starkie, a dairy farming business at Lee Green Farm in Briercliffe, Burnley, blames the cold weather for financial losses.

He said: “We have had it rough over the last few months.

“We have no grass yet and we are running short of fodder.

“We are paying out twice as much as we are taking in compared to last year and we have had to keep all of the cattle inside.

“We have even lost some of them due to the lack of sunlight.”

A spokeswoman for Leys End Farm in Haslingden, said: “We have had to spend thousands of extra pounds to bring in food for our animals as we cannot produce any ourselves.”

The farming community, along with struggling garden centres and sports clubs as the Telegraph reported yesterday, will be hoping this weekend’s weather signals the start of spring.

Temperatures are expected to steadily rise, peaking at 18 degrees on Sunday.

Stuart Whitworth. 55, who runs Ramsclough Farm, Oswaldtwistle said: “With the extreme snow and wind it was really bad here.

“The wind and cold temperatures have been really bad for the grass and, as there has not been enough grass to feed the sheep, they have not been producing milk.

“Instead, we have had to buy in food as we cannot grow it.”

Mary Ison, 88, whose son owns Brown House Farm in Nelson said: “We have had to put the cattle inside to protect them from the cold and we are having to feed them inside.”