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Preparing for Winter - Livestock Edition!

For many, preparing for winter means pulling that box of sweaters out of the attic, putting away the flip flops and maybe chopping (or buying) some firewood.  But for those with livestock, preparing for winter has an entirely different meaning.


 It means making preparations for water, food and shelter for the animals during the cold months.  This could include pulling out the tank de-icer from last year(or buying a new one if the old one isn’t working properly), or making sure that there is a hammer of some sort in the truck so that ice can be broken in troughs and ponds when it gets cold enough to freeze.

It also includes checking to ensure that hay and feed inventories are adequate to get the animals through the coming winter months.  Many livestock producers make their own hay, but for some this will mean making arrangements to purchase hay.  If a bad winter is anticipated and a famer is planning on feeding some type of grain or other feed to supplement their livestock, this may also mean making arrangements to purchase that feed from a local feed store in advance – many will offer booking programs or discounts for larger orders placed in advance.  Evaluating the livestock for body condition score is also important –this allows livestock producers to separate their animals based on their age and body condition score and feed those groups of animals that may need a little extra differently (especially if the animals will be giving birth during the winter months).


Finally it means ensuring that the animals have some place to go to escape from the wind and storms.  This could be as simple as making sure that the animals are in a field with plenty of trees to help block the wind, to moving them closer to a barn or shed so that they can go inside if needed.  If sheds or barns are used, it is also necessary to check the roofs for leaks and to make sure that they will hold up to the weight of any snow that may fall and repair any major holes in the walls.

Added to all this, livestock producers will check on animals at least one a day, if not more frequently, during the winter months to ensure that they are safe and healthy.  This will include checking feed supplies, water sources and the general health of the animals.  Regardless of the weather, livestock producers will be out to ensure that their animals are taken care – and they will be checking several times a day if the animals are due to give birth during these cold winter months.

Farmers work hard all year round, but it can be especially challenging during the winter months if the weather decides to be difficult – so be sure to remember all those who are doing their best to care for their livestock while most of us can enjoy the warmth of the indoors during winter weather.
Monday, December 04, 2017
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