Winter Weather Basics for Farmers

This winter season checklist for farmers offers basic tips for livestock and farm owners --read tips from extension agents, too.

by Dani Yokhna
Winter Weather Basics for Farmers
© L. Diane Lackie

Provide appropriate shelter that allows animals to retreat from wet, windy weather. Three-sided buildings are often sufficient for animals that spend most of their time in fields. Make sure other buildings don’t deflect wind and snow into the shelter.

Barn Ventilation
Keep the barn ventilated to help prevent respiratory issues for animals that stay indoors. Keep ventilation and protection in mind when transporting animals, too.

Dry Bedding
Ensure dry bedding is available and located away from feed and water. It keeps bedding clean longer and helps insulate udders and legs from frostbite.  

Food Adjustments
Increase amount or nutrient density of food for animals exposed to cold weather; they need it to keep warm, especially when temp drops below mid 20s (degrees F).

Offer a plenty of fresh water — find ways to keep it thawed — take unfrozen water to animals or use and frost-proof waterers will ensure than livestock get enough to drink.

Watch the Weather
Be aware of swings in temperatures, expecialy in barns that have been closed.

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Know Your Vet
In case of disease outbreaks, have a plan for caring for your animals/relationship with local vet.

Tractors and Equipment
Tractors may need special care, such as a heavier motor oil or fuel additives or access to outlet to run engine heaters.

Equipment, such as a manure spreader, needs special care after winter use; after use, scrape any manure or wet material out to keep the machine parts from freezing.

No matter where you live, winter time on the farm means knowing a few basics when it comes to animal husbandry and farm maintenance.

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