Coronavirus: feeders, feed and manure management

As part of your main contingency plan, it’s important to consider if there are any feed or manure management issues that may arise during the outbreak of coronavirus.  

Feeders and feed

Contact your feed supplier/nutritionist as soon as possible to adjust your requirements and ensure a continued supply.

  • Discuss rations and alternative diets.
  • Calculate how much feed you will need during the movement restrictions, including potential wastage.

Use our Feed and forage calculator to calculate requirements

  • Avoid drastic changes to feed and do not restrict feed to stop animals becoming overweight:
    • Initially, do not feed youngstock ad lib. Instead, provide feed in troughs or hoppers several times a day to allow ready and easy access, especially in the first few days after moving.
    • Clean containers used for feed/water before use and ensure troughs are kept clean.
  • Avoid floor feeding and fix lightweight troughs to the floor, this will reduce waste and fouling.
  • Check feeders are protected from rain.
  • Consider drying off cows early if feed supplies are limited to reduce pressure on feed. Prioritise the nutrition of transition cows.
  • Alternative feeders can be made from plastic drums (for pigs) adapting sheep troughs:
    • Cut off the bases to approximately 10-15 cm deep.

Water and drinkers

  • Check water supplies are plentiful, easily accessible, clean and available at all times.
  • Contact your water supplier(s) to ensure your supply is prioritised and ensure your backup supply is sufficient, especially in extreme weather.
  • Adapt temporary water supplies:
    • Fit nipple drinkers into plastic drums (pigs only)
  • Check fittings are at the correct height.
  • Provide water in troughs for the first 3–5 days.
  • Position drinkers so lying areas aren’t affected if there is a spillage or leak.
  • Consider underfoot conditions around water troughs and feeders to prevent the spread of infectious causes of lameness e.g. footrotin sheep. 

Manure and livestock management

Can manure and effluent be controlled within temporary accommodation?
  • Amend your farm Manure Management Plan, if needed:
    • Review the plan before spreading
  • Check you have at least four months’ slurry capacity; if nearing this limit, seek alternative arrangements as soon as possible.
  • Use the AHDB Slurry wizard to help you work out slurry storage requirements, explore options and comply with regulations.
Can livestock legally be moved off farm?
  • Ensure transporters have an emergency plan, especially in the event of longer journeys.
  • Make extra checks if animals are being moved further than usual or during extreme weather.
  • Review and record health and safety plans.
Is there a sale or slaughter outlet, even at a financial loss?
  • Before moving, check:
    • Can the buyer or abattoir accept your animals and, if so, how many?
    • Have you booked your livestock movements?
  • Are there are any restrictions on your contract?
  • Does the abattoir make any emergency overweight allowances?
  • Identify how animals will be chosen for slaughter if your abattoir has limited capacity.
  • Remember, animals may be more stressed if they are moved.
More information on euthanasia:


Casualty Pig

Casualty Sheep

Emergency slaughter of cattle

Useful links