Livestock Chores and Checklists in Winter

Don’t neglect these chores during winter or your livestock could suffer.

by Rachel Porter
PHOTO: Rachel Porter

Winter livestock chores can’t be neglected. Naturally, hobby farmers spend less time outdoors over the winter. While fall is a great time to prepare your feeding systems and structures to be a little more self-sustaining, it doesn’t mean you can coast through winter without chores. Even with topnotch preparation, winter is difficult on animals, and you must maintain daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal chores.

Animals struggle during the winter because their bodies go into stress keeping themselves warm. Many females have bred during the fall and are pulled down with the burden of pregnancies.

Observation is always the most important daily chore for every aspect of farming. Getting outdoors daily doesn’t have to take a long time, but it’ll remain necessary. Invest in some tough winter gear including boots, gloves, hats, coats to make your time outdoors safer and more bearable. To help you get the bases covered quickly, know exactly what needs to be done and move through the following checklist to keep the animals on your farm safe and healthy.


Daily Livestock Chores

Here are the livestock chores you should do daily in the winter.

  • Check waterers. Break ice, if necessary. Consider water heaters to prevent water from freezing.
  • Check the food supply. Make sure your animals always have adequate portions, and monitor that they’re eating enough. Even if your feeding systems are automated, make sure they’re working properly every day.
  • Check any heat lamps. Make sure they’re working properly and aren’t overheating. Also check that the surroundings aren’t getting too hot, which could lead to fires.
  • Collect any eggs before they freeze.

    sheep in winter
    Rachel Porter

Weekly Livestock Chores

Do these livestock chores each week during winter.

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  • Check roofing structures for leaks.
  • Check shelters for drafts, and board up, if necessary.
  • Add new bedding using the “deep litter method” for chickens and animals.
  • Top up the coop and nesting boxes with hay or mulch.
  • Give chickens a supplement, such as mealworms, oyster grit, pumpkin seeds, etc. to beef up their calorie intake.
  • Supplement your livestock with loose minerals, protein blocks or necessary nutrients.
  • Check for any signs of mice. They’re always seeking warm places stockpiled with food, but you want to make sure they aren’t taking the feed from your animals.
  • Check feed storage for any dampness which leads to mold.
  • Observe power supply and backup generators for facilities.

Monthly Livestock Chores

Each month in winter, follow this livestock chore checklist.

  • Inventory supplies and medications.
  • Deep clean stalls and coops.
  • Refill dust baths systems for chickens if they aren’t still free-ranging.
  • Add some diatomaceous earth bedding to control lice, fleas, mites, ticks and other bugs. The closer the herds huddle, the more often outbreaks can occur.
sheep in winter
Rachel Porter

Seasonal Checklist

At least once this season, check off these items on your to-do list.

  • Schedule a seasonal vet check. Have your veterinarian do a wellness check during the winter to make sure they’re healthy and prepared to go into Spring.
  • Catch up on paperwork. Make sure registrations are up to date.
  • Culling lists. If you’re planning to sell livestock, make sure to plan now.
  • Check your selling platforms. What information needs updated? What waitlists can you start now for spring animal sales?
  • Plan financially to increase profits.
  • Price shop your local market to set your annual fee structure.
  • Find ways to cut expenses on your farm i.e.,
  • Price shop your normal go-to products.
  • Order in bulk to save money.
  • Consider waste. Are your feeding systems creating waste? Are you composting food scraps, animal bedding? If not, ways to reuse waste on the farm that save money.
  • Evaluate vaccine schedules.
  • Evaluate supplement schedules.

Winter Livestock Health

Winter chores should not take long but as we spend more time indoors, use that time to be more intentional about planning the full year. Intentional planning will serve your farm well for the entire year.

Reflecting about the health of your animals can allow you to put systems in place to prevent future problems. Be thankful for a winter season that beckons you indoors and gives you the opportunity to make improvements for a new successful year.