En­sure win­ter equip­ment is ready

Irish Examiner - Farming - - GENERAL FARMING - An­thony O’Con­nor, Tea­gasc Ad­viser, Gal­way/Clare Re­gional Unit

C a r r y o u t a l a st m i n u t e check on win­ter hous­ing for live­stock.

Keep safety first in mind when check­ing fa­cil­i­ties. Power wash and dis­in­fect all sheds. If there has been a win­ter health prob­lem in the past, you may need to con­sult your vet about us­ing a strong, spe­cialised dis­in­fec­tant. In­spect slat­ted ar­eas for dam­aged, cracked, or sag­ging slats. Re­place them where nec­es­sary. Like­wise, cracked or un­even con­crete ar­eas should be re­placed. Keep stock off re­paired ar­eas for some weeks.

Wa t e r b o w l s a n d p i p i n g need to be in­spected for any leaks, and to make sure they are fixed se­curely to walls or gates. Clean out and dis­in­fect all wa­ter bowls. Wa­ter pip­ing above ground needs to be lagged against frost. Check feed bar­ri­ers are se­cure, and all bolts and locks are in work­ing or­der. En­sure that all doors and gates are hang­ing safely, and can be fas­tened se­curely. Old or bro­ken fix­tures need to be re­paired or re­placed. Grease self-lock­ing bar­ri­ers and slid­ing doors, so that they run smoothly.

All slurry ag­i­ta­tion points must be se­curely cov­ered, and not eas­ily open­able. Look at creep gates, to ver­ify they can be opened and closed when needed. En­sure that your calv­ing gate is in good work­ing or­der, and is safely se­cured.

I n s p e c t a l l e l e c t r i c a l f i t tings, and re­place any that are bro­ken or dam­aged. Don’t risk sub­stan­dard fit­tings; they could be lethal to both man and an­i­mal.

L o o k at a l l g u t t e r s a n d down­pipes to en­sure they are not blocked, and won’t cause un­wanted flood­ing of sheds, or tanks, over the win­ter. Plas­tic cov­ers on flu­o­res­cent roof lights should be cleaned, where pos­si­ble, and dam­aged ones re­placed. Clean light­ing throws out more light. Like­wise, check that all fl o o d l i g h t s a n d h a l o g e n lamps, both in­side and out­side, are in full work­ing or­der. Clean glasses and re­place bulbs where nec­es­sary. Ex­am­ine bar­ri­ers, bars and safety ar­eas in bull pens, to check all is in or­der. Keep the stock bull se­cure at all times. Make a list of re­pairs needed and get them done. Don’t de­lay. Do it today.

F a r m m a i n t e n a n c e i s a driver of farm ef­fi­ciency, it saves time and labour, and re­duces prob­lems with live­stock and ma­chin­ery, Most im­por­tantly, it helps pre­vent farm ac­ci­dents.

Calv­ing ar­eas

Hy­giene is crit­i­cal in calv­ing boxes/ar­eas. Ev­ery ef­fort is needed to pre­vent the buildup of in­fec­tion and dis­ease. Thor­oughly clean out, power wash and dis­in­fect all calv­ing boxes/calv­ing ar­eas. Use a strong dis­in­fec­tant; this pre­vents a build-up of harm­ful mi­cro-or­gan­isms such as Cryp­tosporid­ium. If there is a his­tory of scour, dis­ease, or in­fec­tion in the calv­ing area, con­sult your vet on what spe­cialised dis­in­fec­tant to use.

Creep pens

Like­wise, hy­giene is hugely im­por­tant here. Re­move all farm­yard ma­nure, old straw e t c . C l e a n t h e w h o l e a re a , power wash and dis­in­fect, with a strong dis­in­fec­tant. When dry, sprin­kle the en­tire creep area with hy­drated lime. This will act as an ad­di­tional dis­in­fec­tant. Wear gloves and pro­tect your eyes when han­dling lime. En­sure you have enough straw in store to cover the en­tire calv­ing pe­riod.

Ma­chin­ery

Trac­tors, shear grabs etc are needed in the months ahead. Ser­vice trac­tors. Check brakes and hy­draulic sys­tems. Grease all ex­ter­nal mov­ing parts. Sharpen blades; re­place shear grab pins etc.

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