Summer cleaning routine needs attention
The daily routine on beef farms over the past few months has moved away from being centred on the farmyard and buildings to grazing fields and other fieldwork.
Assuming that the first cut of silage has been taken, slurry spread and fertiliser applied to the land, attention should now be focused on maintenance and cleaning of all buildings and handling facilities associated with winter housing.
All evidence will conclusively show that a proper summer hygiene routine will pay dividends in reducing the disease burden when housing the following winter.
Areas which should receive a thorough cleaning include cattle transport vehicles, handling pens, handling race, calving pens, calving house, sick pens, feed store, housing pens and all other equipment associated with livestock.
This is of vital importance, not simply for aesthetic reasons, but also to control bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites that are harboured in faecal material, bedding straw, mud, old feed residue, cobwebs, etc.
The main area for attention and often most neglected is the actual housing pens. I am often shocked upon visiting farms to see, in the middle of the summer, empty houses that not only have not been cleaned out but, if the underground storage is also being used for effluent storage, material will be above floor level. This is an ideal breeding ground for all pathogens.
The housing area needs thorough cleaning of all slatted areas, lie-backs, feeding areas, feeding troughs and all spots inside of the roof area. Power-washing is essential in order to thoroughly clean these areas. If material has been caked onto concrete, overnight soaking in water will loosen most of the material and lessen the time spent power-washing.
All excess faecal matter and feed should be firstly removed. On slatted areas, scraping between the slats using a digging spade or specially adapted scraper will lessen the time spent power-washing.