Housing of Livestock
Livestock housed over the winter period need facilities that are fit for purpose and have adequate storage capacity for the statutory number of weeks. Claire Mooney, Teagasc ASSAP Advisor, has some important guidelines here on the management of winter housing to prevent nutrient losses
Livestock housed over the winter period need facilities that are fit for purpose and have adequate storage capacity for the statutory number of weeks (see table below). Farmers should ensure that their housing facilities are designed and used in a manner that minimises the potential impact on water quality. The following are some important guidelines on management of these facilities:
Slatted sheds and slurry tanks
- Slatted sheds are designed to house a certain number of livestock - do not exceed this number, both for slurry storage and animal welfare reasons
- Prevent water from entering tanks from roof, yard or adjoining land
- Check for leaks in slurry storage facilities including lined lagoons
- Ensure the capacity of slurry tanks is, at a minimum, sufficient to meet the slurry storage requirements for your county. For further information on calculating your slurry storage requirement please go to DAFM Nitrates Explanatory Handbook
- Ideally, there should be a significant buffer of weeks additional slurry storage to reduce the need to empty tanks in poor weather and ground conditions
- Ensure that all water troughs are not leaking
For slurry storage requirements for your county see below:
Loose housing and farm yard manure (FYM) storage
- Loose (straw bedded) sheds are designed to house a certain number of livestock, do not exceed this number, both for FYM storage and animal welfare reasons
- Ensure that appropriate controls are in place to collect runoff from pens
- Always use sufficient straw (or other bedding) in pens
- Ensure the capacity of farm yard manure stores are sufficient and meet the minimum FYM storage requirements for your county
- Ensure there is adequate collection and storage facilities for seepage from the FYM store
- Minimise water ingress from rainfall and clean water areas.
- A roofed FYM store greatly reduces the amount of seepage that needs to be collected.
Open Yard Feeding
- Ideally open yard feeding is to be discouraged because all rainfall must now be collected as it mixes in with the slurry. Ensure that you have sufficient storage for all this extra slurry generated by the winter rainfall for your area
Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) funding is currently open. There are a number of TAMS schemes farmers can avail of help fund animal housing and storage including the Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient storage Scheme (AWNSS), Dairy Equipment Scheme (DES) and Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme (LESS).
More information on Water Quality Week is available here
For more information on protecting water quality visit the water quality section of the website here