Winter Housing preparation and feed bin maintenence

Now that Autumn is upon us and the days are just starting to draw in it is time to concentrate on getting ready for the winter housing period.

There are always lots of jobs to be done to improve housing and fix problems that made life difficult last year. Unfortunately most people do nothing about them until the cattle are outside swimming in the fields needing to come in!

So what are the typical jobs that need to be done?

1. Roofing.

Every year sadly there are always incidents of serious injury and deaths in farms from people trying to repair roofs in high winds in winter. If you have a suspect roof now is the time to act to fix or replace it. Leaks, loose sheets and leaky gutters are the most common offenders.

2. Make sure your winter housing is cleaned out and ready for cattle.

The most common cases of diseases problems on farms are where the houses are never cleaned out and a buildup of disease is inevitable.  A slurry tank full with water and a 2 inch hose I find is great at removing the heaviest stuff while there is nothing for the smaller stuff only power washer, brush and time. This job should really be done the minute that the cattle leave the shed while it is fresh but better late than never.

3.Repair gates and latches.

There will always be wear and tear on gates and the like while you are dealing with cattle in a housing situation. Now is the time to act to improve your winter work. Inspect the gates before the cattle go in. It will be a lot easier to repair them while the yard is clean and the day is dry rather than in December in the cold and wet! Maybe an additional gate would make your job easier bringing in the animals? maybe a simple latch to hold the gate open or closed instead tying and untying a baling twine?

4.Feed Storage.

If you are using a Winter feed bin or house clean it out! A recent survey reveals that less than 5% of farmers have ever cleaned their feed bins out properly. If you open the chute and nothing comes out that does not mean the bin is empty! Only opening the bin and looking into it with a flashlight is a true inspection.  Condensation builds up in bins and over time and feed can stick to the walls of the bins causing old feed to be retained. In extreme cases I have seen a so called “empty” bin hold nearly 500kgs of 2 to 3 year old feed which inevitably was gone off. Houses used to store feed need to be leak free, have a good door to keep out rodents and good lighting. We have had a customer that kept running out of feed for 12 months or more till one day he replaced the lightbulb in the shed! Problem solved he can now budget his feed better and save him an emergency trip to the store every other week!

5.Storage of Machinery and equipment during the winter.

During the winter you would hope not to need the grass mower, topper, haybob, baler and a lot of other equipment so its a good time to spend an hour clearing out a shed for them and storing them. A quick wash in this dry weather will have them dried out in a few hours, a quick grease to the bearings and put it away till next year ready to work again when time will be tight next spring.

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