Prepare the farmyard for a stress-free winter

As the evenings close 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 important that facilities are ready well in advance of housing, because you never know when our Irish weather might change.

Sheds should be cleaned out and disinfected before stock return inside, particularly so sheds for young stock.

Don’t leave it until the last minute to get sheds ready; you would never know what jobs might need doing until you take a walk around and make a list.

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

Starting early will make it easier to get that help well in advance of stock being housed.

Calving Facilities

Calving boxes should be cleaned out and walls whitewashed, for better viewing of animals on calving cameras.

Check that your calving camera is working correctly in advance of housing.

Check that your calving gate is in full working order.

It is easier to do any necessary repairs when no animals are in a shed.

Two years ago, I installed a camera that I can watch on my mobile, and it has proved to be a fantastic investment.

It’s a great piece of technology, especially for when you are away from the farm, and for those living a distance from their yard.

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


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 prevail in the indoor environment.

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.


Check that all structures and fittings in your sheds are still sound after last winter.

Check that feed barriers are secure, and that 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; you should also ensure that they are fixed securely to walls or gates.

They should be cleaned out and disinfected.

All water pipes and fittings should be checked for faults, and replaced where necessary.

Check that all doors and gates are swinging correctly and safely, before stock return indoors.

Old or broken fixtures should be repaired or replaced.

Slat mats should be checked to ensure they all still 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.

While you are at it, have a look at your calving jack; 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, they could be lethal to both man and beast.

Look at all gutters and 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 let in.


Lacemakers in Limerick want to preserve their unique craft for future generations and hope to gain UNESCO heritage status, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: Lace-making a labour of love rather than laborious industry

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