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Preparing Your Livestock Farm For Winter

Planning And Preparedness For The Winter Months

When the temperatures start to drop, the work on the farm does not slow down. Now is the time to prepare your farm and livestock for the cold, winter temperatures ahead. Being prepared and having a winter emergency plan will reduce the number of sick animals and save money. Planning for and providing the basic needs – food, water and shelter, will help keep your animals healthy over the winter months.

A black cow covered in snowPlan ahead for your livestock's winter water source. Ensuring an adequate and dependable supply of water will encourage optimal health and performance of livestock. You can't just rely on natural water sources because in really cold weather the water will freeze and it can take days before it thaws out. You will need to make sure that fresh water is available several times a day. If you have a tank heater or de-icer from last season, be sure to test it to ensure it's working properly. Follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully to prevent fires and electric shocks. If you don't use a heater, there are still some things you can do to prevent your water source from freezing such as insulating the pipes and faucets.

If your livestock ;are accustomed to foraging throughout the warmer months, you will need to make plans for additional food sources in the winter. Animals need to eat more in cold weather to provide extra calories for heat energy. If weather is cold and windy, livestock need extra feed just to keep warm. You will need food to supplement thin or snowed under pastures. Plan ahead for emergency feeding procedures. Southern States offers a large assortment of livestock feed.

When the wind picks up and the temperatures fall, livestock will need shelter. Many animals like cattle, horses, and sheep are content to live outdoors all year, but will need shelter from the wind and winter storms. Before it gets too cold, set up shelter or windbreak areas for animals kept outside. Wind breaks come in different forms such as barns, open sheds, tree groves, and even stacks of hay. Be sure to winterize the barn and any other shelter buildings on the farm. Inspect the roof and make sure it is stable enough to hold the heavy weight of snow and ice. Check for and repair any roof leaks. Before winter sets in, make sure your heaters are working properly and are located in spots with good ventilation.

It is important throughout winter to check on all of your livestock daily. Their needs may change as the temperatures fluctuate. A well thought out winter plan for your farm will prepare you for unexpected emergencies and keep your livestock safe and sound through the winter months.

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