Protecting Your Farmland this Winter
For many farmers who get sick of toiling in the heat, winter can be an excellent break. It gives them a chance for a much needed rest – especially if it’s grain and wheat they farm rather than animals. The freezing temperatures can really play havoc with the ground and you need to make sure that you’re not feeling isolated from your community.
From checking out the butler buildings to making sure that the ground is ready for the winter, you need to look at all of the ways that you can protect your farmland for the season. You don’t have to lose everything with your farm – and our tips will help!
- Make sure that you cover all crops and plants. You want to keep your crops as safe as possible so that the cold doesn’t affect them. The only way that you can do this is to place row covers over the plants and then add hoops. The parts of the farm that do not have edible crops can still be protected, though, as you need to ensure that you nourish the soil.
- Try to avoid ice water. You need to make sure that you don’t have the water of the farm freezing. Your livestock will need a lot of water in the winter months and thus, you have to make sure that you’re not dealing with troughs of ice. One of the best things that you can buy is a device that allows the water to stay water and not freeze over. You can also use heat to keep it cool but not frozen.
- Block out the wind while you can. Almost all livestock can handle lower temperatures but it’s the wind that’s the problem. You can rotate your livestock around the farm but if you’re not planning to do this, then you could use wind breaks through the day when the temperature is at its coldest. You can do this by planting thickets of bushes and trees along the fencerow, and you can even add barns and gates to block the wind, too.
- Always keep a dry shelter. Where possible, the dry shelter will be the best thing that you can do to keep your animals from being both wet and cold. Your animals need a dry place to go and if you provide it, they will be much happier as a result. Having shelter to keep the rain off your animals is just smart when it comes to your farm!
- Make sure that you breed hardier animals. You want to breed for money or for product, and we get that, but you need to choose livestock that can handle that. Concentrate on the genetics of the animals and don’t just buy your animals from cold places, for example.
- Feed your hay. You need your animals to eat dry food and that means that you need to make sure that you have enough of it when the winter winds blow in. You can do this by stockpiling throughout August and September, and you’ll be ready for your winter grasses to go uneaten. Going into the winter with fatter animals is a good idea!
7. Rotate. You don’t want to have too much of an impact on your crops and that means that you need to rotate the animals so that the grass isn’t too damaged. Rotating your animals in the winter allows you to give them room to roam and stop them from staying in any of the areas for too long.
8. Try to feed at night time. Feeding cows much later in the day will help them to increase heat production in the night. They will be eating and ruminating and that means that they will be able to find winter and the cold much more manageable – which is what you need!
9. Set up suitable birthing centers. Your animals will need a warm and safe place to birth in case they are pregnant and are due through the colder months. They need straw for feeding and bedding, and a shelter dedicated for that can make your animals feel much safer to birth. This is going to be a great thing for them and this will stop them from dying off from the cold. Babies being born in the winter is always tough, so if you have animals ready to birth keep the local vet on standby to help!
10. Ventilate your structures. Your barns need to be well ventilated to prevent too much moisture and pathogens from interfering. If you are planning to house any animals, make sure that they gain proper ventilation so that you get air moving without too many pathogens affecting them.
11. Continue to exercise. Cold or no cold, your animals need to move and keep themselves healthy. You need to get them out to pasture every single day even for a little while! Your animals shouldn’t be cooped up and you can ensure that they are able to remain springy and happy. Happy animals are necessary on a farm!
12. Invest in good backup power. Every farm is likely to blackout through the winter but if you invest in good backup power, you won’t have the worry of this happening. Electric fences, water heaters or even just your home all need to be warm and well-lit in the winter months and blackouts don’t have to affect you. Knowing where the best place is to invest your money is the smartest thing that you can do. Generators will help, and that will mean you’re not without power for too long.
13. Protect your house, too. You have to ensure that while you are in the countryside, you stay as warm as possible. Keeping your own hearth warm is going to protect you and ensure that you are strong and comfortable enough to run your farm properly. Drink plenty of water, exercise and stay warm – much like the animals you’re raising right now! Take the time to plan all of this out and you can protect your farm this winter.
Categories: Outside Contributors