With the busy first-cut silage period subsided on farms, farmers should make time 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 about 20 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 slatted floors 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 – especially the centre of the floor.
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.
Better to be safe than sorry
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 as interest among farmers to avail of a grant is high.
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.