Make sure your pet housing is up to par

Attention turns to the construction of grass covers for the fall, followed by the housing stock. It has been a good year and most farms have not had to relocate livestock since they went to graze full time.

August tends to be a quiet month, so why not take this opportunity today to assess your pet housing?

Take a look around your sheds and garden. You may need to bring in contractors to complete some maintenance, which can be time consuming, so don’t delay.

Drinkers

Every day, a dairy cow drinks up to four liters of water for every liter of milk produced. It is important that the drinkers in the sheds function properly and can be easily cleaned on a regular basis.

Drinkers should be placed at regular intervals, to avoid bullying and competition for water.

Feed barriers / partition doors

It is essential that all feed gates, separation gates and handling facilities are suitable for the safe use of animals and for you, the farmer who works with them.

Handling gates / gates are subject to continuous wear, so be sure to repair or replace damaged equipment.

Automatic manure scrapers

The flow channels are cleaned several times a day and will be used every day after the animals are housed. Replace any worn parts or hoses on the scrapers before the housing period begins.

New automatic slurry scrapers are subsidized under TAMS, so ask your agricultural advisor for advice.

Cabins and slurry

Cow comfort is essential for the well-being and performance of your herd. Cows under housing stress can lead to problems with cell counts, mastitis, lameness – the list goes on and on.

As a general rule, you need 10 stalls more than the number of cows in your herd, so for 10 cows you should ideally have 11 stalls. Replace damaged cabins and carpets, to avoid animal welfare issues before housing begins.

Review slurry storage and take immediate action when inventory counts exceed storage availability. Spread the remaining slurry with a low emission application and farmyard manure while soil conditions remain favorable.

Maintenance and lighting of the shed

Pressure washing of sheds / calving facilities over the next few weeks, followed by the application of a good disinfectant. The shortening of daylight hours means lights in hangars and yards have to be on.

The rewiring of existing agricultural sheds and the installation of additional lighting in the yard are subsidized under TAMS.

Ventilation

Have you ever been in a crowded building with poor air circulation? It can be a very unpleasant experience.

You will be placing a large group of animals in a small space compared to having them outdoors during the summer months.

Adequate airflow without drafts is so important. There are several options available to increase ventilation in sheds, such as ventilated tarps, Yorkshire boards, and electric fans.

Concrete slats and grooving

Time and time again we hear of stories where old shed slats collapse, resulting in the drowning of animals. If you find any slats banging or moving, this is a sign that they should be safely removed and replaced.

The replacement of old slats in an existing hangar with new slats is again granted within the framework of TAMS.

Consider grooving concrete on smooth surfaces that cows walk on every day during housing periods to avoid slipping injuries.


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Boyd S. Abbott

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