FARMERS battled the elements as the Beast from the East brought unrelenting snow and gale-force winds.

Sheep farmer, David Mallon, braved the harsh conditions to move his pregnant Swaledale ewes to a safer part of his farm in Eggleston, Teesdale, just weeks before they are due for lambing.

Mr Mallon, 35, said: "It definitely makes the routine work more difficult and obviously there's a concern for the safety and welfare of the animals.

"You have got to be careful on the farm and know the farm to know where is safest to move them when the snow is blowing and drifting across."

The father-of-two, who was also celebrating his daughter Olivia's fourth birthday with wife Mandy and son Joshua, five, said the weather was some of the worst he had seen in his career.

He said: "The drifts come and goes and it's not too bad when it dies down but this morning was particularly bad with the wind."

He added: "It was bad in 2010 and it was lambing so I would rather it all came now than at lambing time.

"It's been quite nasty this morning."

Mr Mallon, who has more than 700 sheep and 70 suckler cows across three farms, said the animals were made of stern stuff and none had been hurt as a result of the snow so far.

He said: "They all look a bit fed up but they are all alright."