As livestock farmers resume the winter feeding routine on a daily basis, it is worthwhile to take the time make to sure machinery and housing are up to the task. Outlined below are five things to consider.

1. Service telehandler or tractor and loader

With silage feeding needed daily, make sure the telehandler, or tractor and loader, has been properly serviced and is ready for work.

Along with changing filters for oil, fuel, hydraulics and air, make sure there is a good battery in place so that machines are able to start on those cold winter mornings.

Replace any bulbs or fuses so that all lights are working to ensure good visibility when feeding stock in the dark mornings and evenings.

Finally, make sure there is sufficient coolant or anti-freeze in radiators before frost becomes an issue this winter.

2. Sharpen the shear grab and diet-feeder knives

Sharpen the shear grab. It should cut cleanly and seal the face of the pit as silage is removed. Tighten and replace any missing tines on the shear grab as necessary.

Where cattle are fed via a diet-feeder, make sure the knives are sharp so that forage is properly chopped and mixed evenly.

Check over the feeder for signs of wear and tear, focusing on the discharge belt, chains and hydraulic hoses. Again, make sure tail lights are all working and the PTO shaft has an effective guard in place.

3. Spare parts

Sod's law is that machines will break down over a weekend when the local dealership is closed. Therefore, invest in a few spare parts that commonly fail on machines used for winter feeding and bedding.

Things like spare shear bolts, hydraulic hose pipes and couplings are worth having, as well engine and hydraulic oil to top machines after a breakdown or burst pipe.

It is also worth having spare items like piping and fittings for water troughs, as well as light bulbs for sheds and machines.

4. Lag water pipes

Before frost becomes a regular occurrence in winter, lag any exposed water piping in cattle sheds to keep drinking troughs supplied. Think back to last year and which troughs gave bother in frost.

5. Internal and external work lights in sheds

Where farmers work off farm, the routine of feeding, bedding and checking animals is carried out in the dark evenings or early morning.

Having good LED lighting in sheds and around the yard makes feeding much easier to carry out. It also makes the farm a safer working environment.

Where children tend to help out with feeding animals, high visibility jackets or vests are recommended, making them easier to identify when machinery is being moved around the yard.

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