Coronavirus: movement, stocking densities and accommodation

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

Movement and stocking densities

Red Tractor provides guidance on producing a contingency plan for movement restrictions. The information below provides additional tips and resources for key areas you should consider while preparing your plan.

If movements on/off your farm are restricted:

  • Keep your key contacts list in an accessible place and ensure all staff know where to find it.
  • Make sure your farm map (flow and buildings) is up to date and keep with your key contacts list.
  • Consider deadstock management and contact your fallen stock collector.

How to manage stocking densities:

  • Ensure you always remain compliant with stocking density limits.
  • Calculate estimated growth rates and requirements within pens/buildings/fields, include space, water and feed.
  • Different-sized animals will have different needs, e.g. for pigs, smaller animals are less destructive and require less robust pens; slot/beam regulations will vary depending on the age of the animals, e.g. for sheep, ensure lambs cannot get into water troughs and drown.

Alternative accommodation indoors

  • Consider using any spare livestock accommodation, e.g. sheds/yards, corn stores/dryers, barns, tractor sheds, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect buildings and spaces before using to house animals and make sure they are set up correctly.
  • Check bedding and consider lighting, temperature, ventilation, air circulation, draughts and condensation.
  • Ensure adequate space allowances and access to feed and water troughs – consider giving larger space allowances if conditions are less than ideal.
  • Consider using drum fans and supplementary heat, e.g. lamps where necessary.
  • Consider using windbreak or shade netting if necessary.
  • Follow electrical safety guidance and ensure there is sufficient distance from combustible materials.
  • Create kennels with a plywood/stock board roof.
  • Cover slats with stock board/comfort mats.
  • Monitor temporary races and loading ramps and help pigs adjust to new buildings/spaces.

Alternative accommodation outdoors

  • Identify any concrete areas that can be hurdled off; deep bed to reduce moisture levels from the concrete floor.
  • Ensure fields have a dry lying area.
  • Create temporary pens using materials such as straw bales, stock fencing, electric fencing, etc.
  • Where possible, position the temporary accommodation in a dry area, away from drains and areas affected by run-off from roofs and gutters.
  • Check ventilation and try to ensure lying areas are draught-free.
  • Create smaller kennels within a large pen/yard using straw bales, sheets of plywood, stock board, painted tin, etc.
  • Use bales or hurdles to create external runs.
  • Use net/mesh, where appropriate (unsuitable for sheep or cattle with horns), in pens to prevent escape routes; place on the inside, bend under the bales and use to fill gaps and attach/wire to bale strings.
  • Have a four-week supply on hand for emergencies; this should include bedding, feed, extra gates, straw bales, etc.
  • Consider what else you could use for bedding if straw is scarce, as well as where you can get it from, e.g. shredded paper, woodchips/coarse wood shavings, rape straw, etc.

More information

Guidelines for managing outdoor straw pads for beef cattle Field systems when out-wintering dairy animals

Plan for extreme weather

  • Put measures in place to avoid heat stress, e.g. shades, fans, wallows/areas of wet concrete.
  • Prepare for cold weather, e.g. supplementary heating and deep bedding.
  • Ensure consideration is given to transporting animals during extreme conditions, especially for long journeys.

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