2 simple ways to check if your slats have signs of cracks or faults

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service picture of the rescue of three cows who had fallen into a slurry tank at a farm oustide Dromore, Co Down.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service picture of the rescue of three cows who had fallen into a slurry tank at a farm oustide Dromore, Co Down.
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Firefighters recently saved three cattle from a slurry tank after the cattle fell in and almost drowned and Teagasc is reminding farmers to check their slats for signs of cracks and faults.

Checking slats should be a task completed prior to housing time, according to Teagasc Farm Management Specialist, Tom Ryan. However, he said the next best time to check is today.

Regardless of how new slats are, the Kildalton based Advisor recommended to check slats every year for cracks and faults. He said although slats are more likely to show signs of faults after the 15-year mark, some can show faults earlier on.

“Farmers should check the slats in their shed every year regardless, but obviously with age the likelihood of cracks are increased,” he explained.

He advised to replace the slats ‘sooner rather than later’ if cracks are found in slats, as the outcome of slats failing can be disastrous for any farmer.

“Some farmers might ask if they could get away with replacing them for another year, but what is another year? Is it really worth taking the chance? What is a year if you’re going to be taking a chance on it?”

Picture: Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service/PA Wire
Picture: Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service/PA Wire

How to check your slats

In order to check the slats, he said that farmers should firstly power hose down the slats.

  1. Look for any signs of rust stains, as this can be the first sign of slats failing. “The steel in the slats rusts and swells as time goes on. When it swells it will push away the concrete away from it and eventually it will break and the slats will give way.”
  2. He said that farmers should check the sides of the slats with a torch for cracks and test with a fork to see if concrete crumbles away. “By using a two-pong pike, push it down on the underside of the slats and see if anything crumbles away. The damage is already done if you can push it away, you won’t be breaking off anymore.”

He also urged farmers not to forget about the slats in the collecting yards. “Theoretically the slats in the collecting yards are under more pressure than the ones in the wintering sheds as they are used all year round.”

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“Ideally farmers should check the slats prior to housing, in order to replace the slats in time before the winter period.

“However, checking today is a lot better than seeing your slats fail before the cattle are let out. Especially this time of year, if cattle do fall in and tanks are already 8ft deep with slurry, there will be serious repercussions.”

Manholes, the slurry agitation access point, should also be checked and is often the first part of slats to cause trouble. He asked farmers to replace the grid if it does rust or is dropped or misplaced for safety reasons.

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