Fall has arrived which means that winter is only three months away. Now is a very good time to prepare for the coming winter for your flocks and herds.
Winter Food Supply
One of the first things I think about is food supply. In the day and age of chain farm stores like Tractor Supply everywhere, this may not be a big concern for some, but if you have grazing stock such as cattle, sheep, horses, goats, etc. You will need to have an adequate source for hay and straw for bedding.
The grass is still green here in Eastern PA but it will not be long before it will start to die off. We let our goats graze most of the day but in the evening, they are already starting to eat more hay at the feeder in preparation for the coming winter and to build up fat stores. It would be a good time to start shopping around to get the best hay prices and to take inventory to make sure that you have enough to get you through the cold months, especially if the farmer that you purchase from cannot guarantee that they will have enough to sell you out of their own storage if you were to run out.
Even of you only have smaller stock such as chickens and ducks, it would be a good idea to have extra grain in a vermin-proof storage container. If you are unable to buy your regular supply due to inclement weather, your stock will not have to go hungry.
Tip: Here’s how Aprille keeps keeps her animals through the winter.
Winter Heat Supply
The second thing to consider is warmth. You need to make sure that you have adequate shelter for your animals and a place for them to go to get out of the wind. You also need to make sure that your coops and pens have tarps or windbreaks. Make your bedding extra thick so that the animals can bed down on the coldest days. Don’t forget the barn cats either. Make sure they have a place to seek shelter as well.
Winter Water Supply
Winter months can be an especially difficult time with providing enough water and keeping it from freezing. Heat tape on outside spigots, and heater water buckets can save you time and energy and can help to make your stock more comfortable.
Want to learn more about keeping rabbits? We recommend:
Winter Lighting Supply
Another factor to consider is lighting. If you want your chickens and ducks to be in production during the winter, or if you have plans to breed your meat rabbits over the winter, you will need to have a good timer and artificial lighting set up. Chickens and rabbits need about 12-14 hours of light to continue production over the winter months. You can also choose to give your stock a break and not push them to produce over the winter months. We allow them to rest naturally over the winter, but that may not be an option for everyone.
If you do not have electricity in your barn, then you will want to do your evening chores while it is still daylight. Now is a very good time to get your stock accustomed to being fed and watered earlier in the day. Even of you do have electricity, it may still be a good idea to slowly start to do your chores earlier since the night hours are colder than daylight hours and it may be more pleasant to do your chores while it is still light.
Winter for both man and livestock can be difficult at times, but by preparing ahead, it can make your life easier and more comfortable for both you and your stock.
Tip: After winter comes spring – Be Prepared For Baby Animals!
How are you getting you and your animals ready for winter?