Winter conditions present special challenges. Make sure you and your farm are ready.
If winter hasn’t found its way to your farm yet, you likely know all too well that it’s only a matter of time. And if you haven’t had the chance to prepare for winter’s worst, here are some important considerations.
When you raise livestock, you put the care of your animals above your own needs. The better you prepare, the more easily and more effectively you can meet the needs of your livestock so you can focus on other aspects of your farm. Extension dairy specialists at South Dakota State University offer several winter readiness tips, regardless of species. Nutritional requirements can increase significantly during cold weather. Those requirements rise dramatically if animals become wet and grow even more if there is appreciable wind.1
Once acclimated to cold temperature, horses often prefer to be, and are better off, outdoors. During winter months, horses should be given warmed water (45 F to 65 F) and fed additional hay during extreme cold. Access to shelter, regular hoof care and body condition assessments also are important.2
Keeping your livestock fed and comfortable can be especially challenging during winter. Snow, ice and cold make operating a tractor more difficult.3 Using your front-end loader to carry heavy loads of snow or hay requires considerably more caution in winter conditions. As North Dakota State University specialists note, slippery conditions increase the hazard of maneuvering elevated loads. It’s important to keep the load and speed low where traction is poor. Properly ballasting the tractor with the use of a front-end loader is important in any season, but especially during winter.
Keeping farm equipment, such as tractors, semis, skid loaders, pay loaders, feed-mixing wagons, manure pumps, etc., operating and reliable is especially challenging during winter. Check batteries and fuel filters as these items routinely fail in cold weather. Remember: Your Case IH dealer is your No. 1 source for all types of parts and service.
Winter on the farm is tough and can be extremely dangerous. Your reaction time can be significantly affected by cold temperatures and poor visibility. Extension experts recommend you plan work activities ahead of time, allow additional time to get work done and set realistic goals for daily work. Most important: Don’t take unnecessary risks. Instead, take preparedness steps and be ready for the most challenging conditions.
1Kerr S. Winter Livestock Management. Oregon State University Small Farms website. http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/w08livestock. Published winter 2008. Accessed December 6, 2016.
2Hathaway M, Martinson K. Equine winter care. University of Minnesota Extension website. http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/care/equine-winter-care/. Accessed December 6, 2016.
3Maher G. Tractors Require Extra Caution in Winter. North Dakota State University Extension website. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/winterstorm/winter-storm-information-farm-and-ranch-information/tractors-require-extra-caution-in-winter. Accessed December 6, 2016.