Winter is coming and it is time to start prepping your farm and livestock for it. You don’t want to wait until the last minute to start or you’ll be scrambling to finish while the cold weather is beginning to settle in. With some proper planning and early preparation you will be ready for anything winter will throw your way.
Keep reading for the best ways to prepare your winter farm for the upcoming inclement weather.
1. Prepare Your Plans for Feed Through the Winter
Winter months are more difficult when it comes to feeding your flock or herd because your pastures might be bare or covered in snow. This means that you will have to be prepared with another forage that will get your animals through the next four months of bad weather.
With lowering temperatures your animals' needs for more food increases. Younger animals who are still dependant on milk will need to be supplemented with either a higher quantity of milk replacer or add in additional feedings during the day.
For older animals who have been weaned, be prepared to feed them more grain, hay or forage to provide them with the extra calories they will need to stay healthy during the cold months. Also, take note of the quality of the forage you have on hand. The higher the quality of forage the less feed you will need over time because your livestock will not need to eat as much to keep their energy up.
It is easier to run through the logistics and come up with a game plan before your supplies have been depleted. Make sure you have enough supplies on hand or know where you can get more if your stock runs out.
2. Get the Shelter Ready
Now that your livestock will be spending most of their days inside the shelter instead of out grazing in the pasture, you want to make sure that the shelter is ready for when winter hits. This will help you and your animals transition easier and minimize stress.
Take time checking your buildings for any repairs that might be needed, such as roof leaks, cracked windows or broken doors. Also, make sure that the building is well ventilated since the animals may not be able to go outside and get fresh air if the weather is bad.
Make sure you have plenty of bedding ready for your animals so that they will stay warm and cozy during the winter months. Animals not only require more bedding to keep their body temperatures up during the winter but you will also want to be prepared to replace any bedding that might get wet. Wet bedding will make your herd cold and uncomfortable and their health might begin to decline.
To help keep the bedding dry, a layer of sand or sawdust underneath will help absorb moisture, as well as mixing wood shavings into the straw.
3. Evaluate the Body Condition Score
Before winter comes you should evaluate the body condition score of your animals so you can take note of their body weights and track it through the season. This will give you an indication of how the feeding of the herd is holding up and if you need to adjust the amount or type of feed they are getting.
Depending on the size of your herd you may need to separate your animals into smaller groups so you can better determine their dietary needs. It will be easier to keep those animals who rate with similar body condition scores, are similar in age, or pregnant members of the herd together so that tracking their feedings will be more accurate.
4. Verify Access to Water
Sometimes during the winter months, water pipes can freeze and then burst. Check and make sure that your pipes are in proper working order and do not have any leaks. If necessary replace the insulation on the pipes to help protect them from the upcoming season.
If you have heated waterers turn them on and check that they are also working how they should. If you don't have and aren't planning on getting heated waterers, consider using heated water buckets or water heaters that will keep the water from freezing. Your livestock needs constant access to a water supply and you can't allow their water source to freeze over during those tough winter days.
5. Get Rid of Parasites
Parasites can be a real issue for your livestock, especially during the winter months. Animals who have lice will not only affect their general health and well being but they might also damage their shelter by itching themselves against the building.
Your livestock should also be dewormed to help ensure a healthy digestive system especially for those animals that will be weaning during that time period. Animals that were dewormed prior to weaning will have a heavier weight and their health will stay in good condition. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to develop the best program for your animals.
6. Prepare Yourself
Once you have fully prepared your farm and livestock it is time to get yourself prepared for the upcoming winter weather.
Make sure you have enough winter clothing to keep you warm and replace any items that might have become too worn. Also, have clothing on hand that is comfortable while wearing and is also rugged enough to keep up with your winter chores. Wearing multiple different layers will help keep you warm during the coldest of days and make sure you have a warm hat and a good set of gloves to keep your head and hands warm.
The more prepared you are for winter the easier it will be for you to give your livestock the care they need.
Are You Ready to Start Prepping Your Winter Farm?
Hopefully, this guide will have you ready to start prepping your winter farm for the upcoming season and bad weather.
For more information or help getting you and your livestock ready for winter, visit our website and contact us for more information.