Gerry Giggins: Getting your house in order can keep diseases at bay
It's been an inordinately long housing period on a lot of beef farms. In many cases, animals that were housed this time last year have only recently been sold. This means that the person feeding them and the sheds have not had a lot of rest.
In discussion with many farmers, they have highlighted the fact that they have had a greater incidence of 'housed' diseases such as digital dermatitis, which is better known as slurry heel. So I return to a subject I have covered before with regard to summer cleaning procedures that should be part of every farm's routine.
The inevitable build-up in diseases over this period needs now to be dealt with by carrying out some simple routines that should be part of the annual disease prevention process. All housing, handling facilities, feeding equipment, feed storage areas and transport equipment should now be thoroughly cleaned and all relevant maintenance carried out in preparation for the forthcoming winter.
Evidence proves that so doing is hugely effective in reducing the incidence of problems and disease 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.
Certain bacteria and viruses are harboured in faecal matter, bedding material and wasted feed and it is important that all this is removed from areas that housed cattle will come in contact with later in the year.
Simply scraping and removing the material is not sufficient. High pressure washing is essential to remove all loose and impregnated material. Most tractor-powered high pressure washers will remove all faecal matter, etc from concrete areas.