Gearing up for winter farming

Gearing up for winter farming

The colder months of the year are officially here. Many states will see their first snow in November, and will last February to March. There is a lot to worry about during the winter on your farm, especially if you are a livestock farmer. From bedding to food, and even keeping water from freezing. Stay calm, you still have some time to prepare.

The right bedding

The bedding materials directory by the AHBD, will help farmers assess a range of bedding options to ensure they are using the most appropriate materials for their livestock. Straw is the most commonly used bedding material. The hot and dry weather conditions and availability of bedding has been a question mark for some farmers.

Summer 2018 isn’t the first time there have been concerns over bedding costs or availability and it’s unlikely to be the last. Farmers across the country have been using alternatives, and the bedding materials directory has been a valuable resources in understanding the pros and cons of different bedding materials.

Bedding has a significant bearing on animal health and welfare. Livestock kept in badly managed housing with poor environmental conditions will not grow well and will be more susceptible to disease.

It is important that farmers work out how much straw they have and what they will need as their feed or bedding throughout the winter months. They can then investigate the availability and price alternative products. Some may be readily available depending on where farms are, and these alternatives are worth considering if availability and cost match system requirements.

Keep water from freezing!

Another common problem is how to keep livestock water from freezing. When the temperature drops, your animals will tend to eat more high nutrient feed to keep warm. When your animals eat more, their need for water will increase. Homesteaders know it’s not fun lugging buckets of water across a snowed-over barnyard or walking through ice on a windy pasture in the middle of the night.

Electrical stock tank heaters and deicers are a simple and cost-effective way to keep ice away. Most start around $30 and are available in a variety of styles and sizes to keep your livestock water from freezing. These water-safe electrical heating units are placed directly inside the stock tank, while others float on the surface.

Another cost-effective and simple option for small sized farms is a heated water bucket. They range in cost from $40 to $50. They are ideal for individual animals and several can service a small herd. These buckets plug into a power source and some models contain a false bottom for cord storage so the bucket can be used year-round.

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