Ensure sheds are safe for you and your cattle


It’s time to carry out a last-minute check on winter housing for livestock.

Go through the checklist and see what needs to be done. Keep safety first in mind.

Make a list of repairs needed, and get them done. Don’t delay. Do it today.

Remember that farm maintenance is a driver of farm efficiency, it saves time and labour. Most importantly, it helps prevent farm accidents.

Make sure your sheds are safe and sound for you and your stock.

Inspect slatted areas for damaged/cracked/sagging slats. Replace where necessary. Likewise, cracked/uneven concrete areas should be replaced.

Slat mats should be checked to ensure they all remain secured to floors and slats.

Check feed barriers are secure, and all bolts and locks are in working order.

Water bowls/piping needs to be inspected for any leaks, and to make sure that 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.

Ensure that all doors and gates are hanging safely and can be fastened securely. Old or broken fixtures should be repaired or replaced.

Grease self-locking barriers and sliding doors so that they run smoothly.

Creep gates should be inspected to make sure they can be opened and closed when needed.

All slurry agitation points must be securely covered and not easily opened.

Ensure that your calving gate is in good working order and safely secured.

Also have a look at your calving jack to see if it is OK.

Inspect all electrical fittings and replace any that are broken/damaged. Don’t risk substandard fittings; they could be lethal to both man and animal.

Look at all gutters and downpipes to ensure they are not blocked and won’t cause unwanted flooding of sheds/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.

Ensure all floodlights and halogen lamps, both inside and outside, are in full working order.

Clean glass and replace bulbs where necessary.

Examine barriers, bars, and safety area in bull pens to see that all is in order.

Calving area

Hygiene is critical in calving boxes/area. Every effort is needed to prevent the build-up 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/infection in the calving area, consult your vet on what specialised disinfectant to use.

If there are calving cameras present in your suckler unit, inspect them to ensure they are working. Clean the lenses, inspect wiring, view the screen, and picture focus.

Can the cameras be connected to your mobile phone? Use modern technology to make life easier at calving time.

Creep pens

Likewise, hygiene is hugely important here. Remove all farmyard manure, old straw etc. Clean the whole area, power wash and disinfect with a strong disinfectant.

When the creep pens are dry, sprinkle the entire creep area with hydrated lime. This will act as an additional disinfectant (wear gloves and protect the eyes when handling lime).

Use plenty of straw, spread it across the creep area when calves begin to use it.

Ensure you have enough straw in store to cover the entire calving period.

Other sheds for older stock need to be cleared out and disinfected if necessary.


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