Brace yourselves. Winter is coming, and no matter the size of your farm, big or small, preparing for winter is essential. Being prepared and utilizing the following techniques will help to keep things running smoothly and ensure your livestock stay safe and healthy throughout winter.
The Barns & Equipment
- The first thing you should do is conduct an all-farm inspection. This includes machinery, equipment, buildings, walkways, gates, wiring and pesticides. Clean, service and/or repair items if needed. Also, have extra supplies on hand in case you need to make repairs during winter from fallen trees or ice damage.
- Clean out your barns and buildings. Remove all debris, trash and safely store any flammable items you may have.
- Check carbon monoxide alarms in shops and other buildings that use nonelectric heaters.
- Inventory pesticides & other chemicals you may have. Re-read labels to note any expiration dates or storage temperature recommendations. Store dry pesticides above liquid pesticides. Also, determine if you can store unused pesticides, or whether they need to be disposed.
- Make sure all tanks are filled. Condensation often occurs when weather warms in the spring, which can cause water to enter empty tanks. Top off fuel and hydraulic oil tanks to eliminate this problem.
- Adequately lubricate all machinery. Consult the operator instruction book and lubricate as recommended. Grease unpainted metal parts (ex. hydraulic cylinder rods) to protect them from the elements.
- Fix any damage that occurred the past season. This ensures that broken parts don’t further degrade or rust during the winter. It also ensures faster access to equipment when it’s needed next spring or summer.
- Remove dust and debris from both inside and outside of farm equipment. Change oil and fluids, and check tire air pressure regularly. Protect the air inlet and exhaust from humidity. Lower each linkage fully to avoid pressure buildup in hydraulic rams. If possible, slacken the engine accessories’ belt tensioner. Remove the battery and store in a dry location.
- Properly store equipment. Keeping equipment under a roof is the best way to protect equipment, but this is not always possible. If left outdoors, cover equipment and protect computerized mechanisms with a cloth. Using water-resistant products such as wax can further protect equipment from rust and premature wear.
- Make sure all barns and sheds stop drafts and provide proper ventilation.
- Make sure your heat lamps are working properly and keep a few extra bulbs on hand. Please note heat lamps present a huge fire hazard, please use sparingly. Assuring they are in good working condition but also set up safely to prevent bumping, tipping or that nothing flammable is kept near the lamp and it is not accessible to animals.
- Provide dry bedding to help with insulation and comfort.
- Ensure all of your animals are healthy. Make sure that their hooves and feet are well cared for. Your livestock also needs to be up-to-date on their immunizations.
- Stock up on feed and bedding so you won’t run out in case bad weather occurs.
- Make sure there is an animal first aid kit located in the barn.
- Rodents can be a huge problem during this time of the year. Taking proper rodent control measures such as, keeping items picked up, make sure all feed containers are covered or keep bags of feed in containers, and reducing the amount of feed spillage, is truly important.
- Making sure clean water is available throughout the winter is crucial to your livestock’s health. Utilize tank heaters, heated buckets, and automatic waterers. The University of Wisconsin Extension has published a water consumption chart that outlines the amounts of water certain species will consume per day. To ensure that you are providing an adequate amount of water, check the chart by using this link: https://fyi.uwex.edu/smallfarms/2014/07/08/winter-livestock-care-tips/\
If you have questions about how to properly care for a specific animal during winter, please feel free to contact myself.