This year has been reported as being relatively good in terms of sales of livestock handling equipment. Many manufacturers and suppliers of equipment report continued expansion on dairy herds and conversions from livestock enterprises as putting a solid floor under demand.

A significant portion of new orders are facilitating new technologies which makes handling of animals, collection of data and, in some cases, feeding and milking easier and more efficient. Automatic drafting equipment and facilities to cope with an increase in cow numbers are high on the agenda. Two of these items, a batch AI crush and footbath, are featured here.

There is also a noticeable increase in demand from full- and part-time suckler, beef and sheep farmers looking to streamline labour efficiency. The construction of handling facilities on out-farm blocks is one area that seems to be encouraging significant investment. We detail advice on the important components that need to be considered when designing new facilities.

These facilities represent a significant cost to the system and, as such, warrant some careful thought to ensure you end up with a system that suits the numbers to be handled, labour availability and keeps safety to the fore.

Sheep fencing remains the most common TAMS investment by sheep farmers while there is also growing interest in mobile handling equipment and, in recent times, data-recording equipment.

Tranche 20 of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) closes for applications on 15 January 2021. This is the final tranche of the current scheme. Funding has been allocated for a TAMS investment scheme in 2021 but it has not been confirmed if the current scheme will roll over or if there will be changes.

As such, it is advisable where farmers are planning to carry out investments and are in a position to make an application in the coming weeks that they make an application to the scheme.

The scheme has been highly oversubscribed in recent tranches, with about 30% of applications rolled over from previous tranches. This is likely to remain the case for tranche 20 and farmers can gauge how likely their application may be to secure funding by reviewing the selection criteria used for each of the six avenues to apply on