Do you know what condition your slats are in? If not, it’s time to find out…

At this stage of the year, the busy period on many farms has subsided. First-cut and, in some cases, second-cut silage has been saved and the breeding season, on most farms, is dwindling down.

Therefore, this should free up time for farmers to inspect and make improvements on their farms – where necessary – before the winter housing period comes around again.

One area that should be checked to see if it is fit for purpose are any slatted floors on the farm.

According to Teagasc, intensive use, slurry reaching the slats and stocking sheds with bulls can shorten the lifespan of slats.

Slats might look in good condition on the surface; however, it’s not until you take a closer look at them before you will know what sort of state they are in.

The estimated lifespan of a slatted floor is 20-25 years, so any farms with slats that are in for that long or are getting close to that should really consider getting them checked out.

Also, it’s no harm for farmers to check their slats regardless of how long they are in to see what condition they are in.

The entire slatted floor area should be examined. Farmers should keep an eye out for any signs of exposed steel, cracks, surface damage or sagging.

A good way to see if the slats have sagged is by placing a straight edge across the centre of the slats.

Moreover, by power washing the slats you will be able to see any faults that may be present much easier.

Don’t risk it

The temptation among farmers may be to leave the slats for another year or two; however, this is risky, especially if you don’t examine them to see what condition they are in.

Grant aid is available under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II; although certain criteria have to be met in order to qualify for a grant.

Therefore, farmers should not only familiarise themselves with the Department of Agriculture’s criteria surrounding slats but they must also move swiftly if they want to apply for a grant as time is running out.

Finally, farmers should not go about lifting or replacing slats by themselves. Instead, professional help should be sought to carry out the process (of replacing slats) if needs be.