Get Your Cattle Handling Facilities Fit For Purpose

Grants are available to get your facilities up to scratch – boosting labour efficiency and making your farm a safer place, write Tim Hyde and Tom Fallon

Good animal-handling facilities are not a ‘nice-to-have’ – they are crucial for efficiency when managing animals for veterinary tests, routine treatments and tasks such as AI.

Where slurry tanks are being agitated in slatted cattle houses, especially in early spring, it is important that animals are moved out and held in a suitable place.

Newly installed cattle crush system. Pic. Alf Harvey.

Newly installed cattle crush system. Pic. Alf Harvey.

Animal enclosures can be used to hold animals temporarily during this process.

In short, good facilities are a must, and as a result they are supported under TAMS II.

New sheds can avail of ancillary concrete for the shed and the unroofed enclosure.

If you are not applying for a new shed under TAMS II, then you are limited to availing of just the unroofed enclosure, walls, barriers gates, race and skulling/back gates.

 

Under TAMS II, the eligible area of an animal enclosure is limited to a maximum of 2m2 per bovine on the holding. So, on a farm with 60 animals, TAMS II will grant aid at least 120m2 of an enclosure at 40 or 60pc.

To qualify for grant aid, you will need planning permission or a declaration of exemption for Unroofed Animal Enclosures from the county council.

Grant aid for a stand-alone cattle crush/race in existing buildings or the replacement of an existing crush does not require planning permission.

Planning Permission

Animal enclosures are listed as Class 8 building structures and are in the same class as silage pits, unroofed cubicles, milking parlours and collecting yards. Planning permission is required for these structures.

A building/structure is exempt from planning if the floor area of the structure and ancillary effluent storage does not exceed 200m2. The conditions for this exemption require the total floor area of all Class 8 structures within the same farmyard complex or within 100m of that complex to not exceed 300m2.

Other conditions state that the proposed structure shall not be situated within 10m of any public road and 100m from any house or public building, save with the consent of the owner or person in charge.

The conversion of an existing clean yard to a cattle-handling facility alters the building class of the structure and will therefore require planning permission (unless exempt as outlined above).

Soiled Water/Effluent Control

The minimum specification for cattle crush, race and enclosure is outlined in the DAFM specification S137. In cases where the enclosure and race are not cleaned following each use, drainage channels are necessary to divert effluent and soiled water to a storage facility.

The tank must be at least able to hold the effluent from one day’s use from the cattle-handling facility. A clean water diversion system must be installed for run-off after the enclosure has been cleaned and not in use.

Unroofed Cattle Enclosure Costs

The provision of a cattle-handling facility to a four-bay double tank slatted house would measure 120m2 to accommodate 60 finishing cattle.

This provides a 2m2 allowance for all housed animals. A layout of such a facility is outlined in Figure 2.

Cattle handling 1

The estimated cost not exceeding the DAFM costing of the enclosure is outlined in the table below.

These costs would equate to a TAMS II grant of around €3,000 at the 40pc rate.

The adjacent slurry tanks provide storage for soiled water/effluent.

In this scenario, the cost of the four-bay slatted shed, including slatted tank, roofed feed passage and ancillary concrete is estimated at €63,000.

The addition of the handling facilities would be roughly 10pc of the total costs of both structures.

Summary

In planning farmyard facilities, the inclusion of an animal enclosure, crush, race and escape routes are important elements that should be considered.

The facility can be grant aided under TAMS II Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme. Such a facility will help to improve labour efficiency and health and safety in terms of animal restraint and slurry agitation.

Tim Hyde is an environment specialist with Teagasc’s Crops Environment and Land Use Programme,

Tom Fallon is a farm buildings specialist with Teagasc’s Rural Economy Development Programme.

(Source – Irish Independent – Indo Farming – Tom Fallon – 31/01/2020)

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