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Time to Check slats

16 May 2020
Type Media Article

The lifespan of slats done to grant specification is about 20 years. Intensive use of slats, slurry reaching them, stocking with bulls etc. will shorten the lifespan of the slats. Tom Fallon Teagasc Farm Buildings & Infrastructure Specialist & Francis Bligh Teagasc Safety Specialist tell us more.

The design lifespan of most shed components done to grant specification is about 20 years. Intensive use, slurry reaching the slats in most years, stocking with bulls etc. will shorten the lifespan of slats. On the other hand slats in open yards (where corrosive gases can more readily escape) can last longer.

Slats and manhole covers need to be replaced before they fail. It is important that they are checked each year.

Power hose out the slatted shed completely and use the hose to clean the sides of the slats as far as possible.

Examine the entire floor (but especially the centre slats) for sagging, cracking, rust staining and spalling of concrete, i.e. breaking of layers or pieces of concrete from the surface. 

The placing of a straight edge across the centre of the slats will indicate which slats have sagged. Check for longitudinal cracks along the sides of the slats. If present use a fork to see if the concrete at the bottom of the slat comes away. It will be easier to see this if the slurry is about a metre from the top. If concrete comes away from the bottom of the slats they all need to be replaced.

Farmers might be tempted to get an extra year or two out of the slats but this would be foolish. Grant aid is available under TAMS11 to replace slats. It will be necessary to have external agitation to qualify for the grant but extending the tank to provide this, is also covered under TAMS11. When replacing slats or extending tanks it is wise to take the opportunity to remove the inevitable silt build up at the bottom of tanks. See Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Specification S123S (available on www.agriculture.gov.ie).

It is not practical to lift gang slats for checking. Teagasc does not recommend any farmer entering a slatted tank. There are specialist companies who use a breathing apparatus or an external fresh air supply to enter tanks and check slats.