Is galvanised steel required under TAMS II specifications?

Since the unshackling of the milk quotas and the availability of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS II) grant, a significant number of farmers across the country have been building agricultural units.

Some farmers have applied for grant aid through the TAMS II programme, while a significant number of farmers have been building agricultural units without availing of the grant.

Data released to AgriLand by the Department of Agriculture shows that some 2,061 farmers have received approval to proceed with constructing animal housing.

However, whether building a unit to grant-spec or constructing a shed without the grant, there are many different specifications that can be followed.

Speaking to AgriLand, Aidan Kelly – an agricultural buildings advisor – from Agri Design and Planning Services (ADPS) outlined that galvanised steel does not have to be used under the TAMS grant.

“I have had many farmers say to me that if I went for the grant, I would have to galvanise it; that’s going to cost me another €4,000.

“However, this is not the case. The letter of the law states that the shed does not have to be galvanised; once grant approved paint is used, it’s fine.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, under the TAMS scheme, all scale and rust must be removed by shot blasting. Then, a primer must be applied within 12 hours. This must be followed by another coat of primer, followed by a coat of iron oxide finishing paint.

Aidan continued: “Galvanising is the ‘bees knees’. I’ve seen plenty of sheds that are 100 years old and they weren’t galvanised and there are still standing.

“Steel has a natural way of galvanising itself. Once it rusts, that’s it’s own protection; people need to realise this and it is fine if you leave it alone,” he explained.

Which farmers are opting for the galvanised finish?

Under his current workload, Aidan outlined that approximately 35% of his clients are opting for the galvanised finish.

“It’s like buying the top-spec tractor; it’s a fantastic finish and it most definitely will last 100 years. It is a super job along a feed face or anywhere where there is going to be acid and silage.

“Farmers sometimes galvanise the pillars in the centre feed passage or if the pillars are going to be in a dungstead. Problems can occur when pillars are dropped into the middle of a shed. If a solid floor is present and it is bedded with straw, this is where farmers might have issues,” he added.

“You can see in older sheds where farmers have put lumps of concrete around the bottom of pillars, because they have rusted to absolutely nothing. Whereas, if these pillars were galvanised, you would get another 20-30 years out of it.”

An increased cost

It is a well-known fact that galvanised units carry a higher cost. On this, Aidan said: “There is a time delay with galvanising. The steel has to be manufactured, sent out and brought back, which contributes to increased cost.”

Nicky Sweeney – an engineer at Gleeson Steel and Engineering – outlined why galvanised steel generates a higher cost.

“If we did 10 grant jobs, three of them would probably be galvanised. There is a significant price increase from a paint job to a galvanised job, depending on the size of the shed of course.

“If a farmer was building a four or five-bay unit that wasn’t too wide, it wouldn’t be that expensive. A shed measuring 120ft long and 60ft wide, he/she would be looking at significantly more.

“The gap widens because the price of galvanising the steel is charged per tonne. The more steel that has to be galvanised, the higher the price.

“However, the paint will last a lifetime too; it just depends on the environment that it is in. We would always use galvanised steel in coastal areas and in beef finishing units,” he concluded.