It’s that time of the year again when we need to get ready for the winter.
For most, this means getting indoor accommodation ready for stock.
It is important that facilities are well cleaned out and disinfected before stock return inside. This is particularly important for sheds housing younger animals.
Don’t leave it until the last minute to get sheds ready; you would never know what major jobs might need doing.
You may need outside 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.
Inspection and repair of cattle handling facilities can be heavy work so get a hand where possible. You won’t do much work during the winter if you hurt your back.
Calving boxes should be cleaned of any dung remaining from last season, and disinfected.
A great tip I heard recently was to whitewash walls in calving boxes, because it makes it easier to view animals on calving cameras. It sounds like a great idea.
Remember that you should also check that your calving camera is working correctly, in advance of housing.
It is easier to do any repairs when no animals are in a shed. Many are now considering the option of getting access to their camera on their mobile phone. This will allow them to monitor calving wherever they are.
This is a great piece of technology, especially for part-time farmers, and for those living a distance from their farmyard.
Creep areas should also be thoroughly cleaned out and disinfected before cows and calves come back in. One of the biggest source of disease in young calves comes from straw and dung remaining from other stock who have been in the shed.
Young calves are very often infected by older calves in a batch, if good hygiene practices are not adhered to. Also remember to clean out meal troughs thoroughly before the new batch start feeding out of them.
As with young-stock houses, it is also advisable to clean out sheds housing older stock.
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 be power-washed and limed before housing.
Check that all structures and fittings in your sheds are still sound after the summer.
* Check that feed barriers are secure, and that all bolts and locks are in working order.
* 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.
* All water pipes and fittings should be checked for faults and replaced immediately, if 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 to floors and slats.
* Grease self-locking barriers, to ensure they run smoothly.
* Creep gates should also be inspected, to make sure they can be opened and closed 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. Please 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, and won’t 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 cleaned or new sheets provide.
Remember, never risk welding or cutting with a grinder in a shed where straw are hay are stored, it could end in disaster.