Irish Examiner - Farming - - BEEF SECTOR - Brian Reidy

The evenings are clos­ing in, and with the Plough­ing just around the cor­ner, it is that time of the year again when we need to pre­pare for the win­ter.

It is al­ways a great idea to pre­pare well in ad­vance be­fore hous­ing.

What fa­cil­i­ties is­sues from last win­ter do you need to ad­dress?

Were there any safety con­cerns for peo­ple and stock? Did you have prob­lems with ven­ti­la­tion, lead­ing to health is­sues in stock?

It is im­por­tant that fa­cil­i­ties are ready well in ad­vance of hous­ing, as you never know when the Ir­ish weather might change.

Sheds should be cleaned out and dis­in­fected be­fore stock re­turn in­side, par­tic­u­larly sheds for young stock. Don’t leave it un­til the last minute to get sheds ready, as you never know what jobs might need to be done, un­til you take a walk around and make a list.

You may need help to get some of your f acil­i­ties in order.

Start­ing early will make it eas­ier to get that help well in ad­vance of hous­ing.

Calv­ing fa­cil­i­ties

Calv­ing boxes should be cleaned out, and maybe you s h o u ld co n s i d e r w h i t e - wash­ing the walls, be­cause it makes it eas­ier to view an­i­mals on calv­ing cam­eras. Check that your calv­ing gate is in full work­ing order. Re­mem­ber that you should also check that your calv­ing cam­era is work­ing cor­rectly in ad­vance of hous­ing.

It is eas­ier to do any re­pairs be­fore an­i­mals are in a shed. Many now have a cam­era that they can watch on their mo­bile phone. It’s a great piece of tech­nol­ogy, es­pe­cially if you are away from the farm, or those living a dis­tance from the yard.

You can also in­stall the app for view­ing the cam­era on other peo­ple’s phones, tablets and lap­tops.

It makes mon­i­tor­ing cows much eas­ier at night.

Shed clean­ing

Ide­ally, all hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties should be cleaned out be­fore the new hous­ing pe­riod starts. Newly housed an­i­mals of all ages are stressed and, as a re­sult, are more prone to dis­eases which may be present in sheds.

Slats and cu­bi­cles should ide­ally be power-washed and dis­in­fected be­fore hous­ing. Also re­mem­ber to clean out meal and wa­ter troughs thor­oughly, be­fore the next batch start feed­ing out of them.

Job list

Check that all struc­tures and fit­tings in your sheds are still sound af­ter last win­ter. En­sure that feed bar­ri­ers are se­cure, and all bolts and locks are in work­ing order. Any faults could re­sult in in­jury to you or your an­i­mals. Wa­ter troughs should be in­spected for any leaks, and you should also en­sure that they are fixed se­curely to walls or gates.

They should also be cleaned out and dis­in­fected. Wa­ter pipes and fit­tings should be checked for fault, and re­placed where nec­es­sary.

Are all doors and g ates swing­ing cor­rectly and safely, be­fore stock re­turn in­doors? O l d o r b r o ke n f i x t u r e s s h o u ld be re­paired or re­placed.

Slat mats should be checked, to en­sure they all re­main se­cured.

Creep gates should also be in­spected, to make sure they can be opened and closed eas­ily and quickly when re­quired.

En­sure that all ag­i­ta­tion points are se­curely cov­ered. Check that your calv­ing gate is in good work­ing order, and while you are at it, have a look at your calv­ing jack and make sure it is OK, and that the two ropes are with it. In­spect all elec­tri­cal fit­tings and re­place any bulbs re­quired.

Don’t risk sub­stan­dard fit­tings, as they could be lethal to both man and beast.

L o o k at a l l g u t t e r s a n d down­pipes, to en­sure they are clear of de­bris, and won’t get blocked and cause un­wanted flood­ing of sheds over the win­ter.

Per­spex roof lights should be cleaned where pos­si­ble, and dam­aged ones re­placed. It is amaz­ing how much more light clean or new sheets pro­vide. In­de­pen­dent dairy and beef nutrition con­sul­tant Brian Reidy, Pre­mier Farm Nutrition, can be con­tacted at brian@pfn.ie

Pic­ture: Maria Kelly

At last Sun­day’s Lim­er­ick Show, Vin­cent and Pa­trick Lynch, Kells, Co Meath, show­ing their 2017 All-Ireland Non-Pedi­gree Calf Cham­pion, with Mary Lis­ton and Der­mot Gra­ham of AIB, cham­pi­onship spon­sor.

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