Preparing your Hobby Farm for Winter

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 28th Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2wqn_zkm/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Farm Animals

If you have a hobby farm, or acreage, you may be wondering how to prepare for the winter. How to keep your animals warm in cold weather, or how to feed livestock animals in winter.

Water

Your animals can eat snow in the winter but this is generally not a good idea. An animal must eat a lot of snow to equal any amount of water because snow is mostly air. Your animals may chose to eat snow on their own but this should never be their only option, it is very hard on them particularly on cold days.

You can provide insulated waterers, or put a water heater in the trough to keep it from freezing up. There are many types of heaters available at a livestock feed and supply store. There are also special systems to help you insulate your water troughs also available at the livestock feed stores.

If you do not have a way to keep water unthawed for drinking all day, be sure to bring out buckets of fresh water at least twice a day.

If you have birds you will want to prevent ducks from swimming as they can freeze their feet, but you still need to provide them with water for drinking. If you have any type of outdoor pet bird you should plan on bringing warm water out at least twice a day for them to drink.

Feeding Livestock in the Winter

Some people put a big round bale of hay in the pasture and allow animals to eat whenever they want. You must be sure to have a bale holder because otherwise the bale may one day fall over on your animals as they will usually eat from the bottom.

If you are feeding hay you should be sure to keep the food off the ground where it can be ruined and wasted with urine and manure. I have a feeder for my sheep but have found the lambs often like to jump right in to get more food. You need to have these feeders in place before winter.

Livestock animals generally need more food, and more protein, in the winter, particularly if they are pregnant. Most people will give their animals a grain ration, or increase the grain ration the animals already were on. Some people will add a third feeding to the day to make sure their animals get enough to eat.

If your animals are not use to eating grain increase their diet gradually or you can make them very ill.

Use feeding times to check for health problems in your animals, any animal that is slow to come for meals should be checked closer.

Barn Preparation

Your barn should be winterized by checking for drafty areas. Goats and poultry are less tolerant of drafts than most other farm animals. If it has not been used since last winter you should go around checking for nails sticking out and so forth. The barn should be insulated.

If you have birds you may want to provide a 60 watt light bulb in the coop as this will provide just enough warmth to keep them warm. You may put straw bales around the outside of a small coop for insulation. Some birds, such as peacocks, must be kept warm, if the blood in their long tails freeze they could die.

A totally air tight barn may become too hot and humid, as such good circulation is a must.

If your barn has water be sure all pipes are insulated and protected against freezing.

The barn should be well stocked with supplies before it gets cold, as well you will want to replace any light bulbs that are not working. You may even want to purchase a heat lamp in case you need it later to keep young animals warm if you are breeding your animals.

Stalls should be bedded deep with straw, or shavings.

I like to have the feed room well stocked before the weather gets cold.

Have extra blankets and towels in the barn, if you have animals that will be giving birth over the winter these can be used to dry or to warm the newborn animals.

Other Tips to get Ready for Winter

Before the weather gets too cold it is important to check your fences for needed repairs. Put all equipment away where you can find it before it becomes hidden by the snow.

Make sure you have extra shovels for digging out problem areas.

A calf sled can be very handy to have in winter if you have to haul anything over snow.

If you are expecting the birth of any livestock animals over the winter be aware that sometimes you may have orphaned animals to care for and you need to be prepared for this - you may want to have a special area in the house for lambs, or goat kids, or a warm stall in your barn ready for this use. You may want to buy supplies for bottle feeding ahead of time particularly if you have a large number of animals.

If you have farm cats be sure they also have warm places to sleep in the winter and have extra food.

Be aware that when weather temperatures fluctuate animals are at risk for respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

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Tags

Acreage, Animals, Cattle, Chicken, Cold, Eat, Farm, Goats, How To, Livestock, Prepare, Ready, Rural, Sheep, Snow, Water, Weather, Winter

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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Comments

author avatar johnnydod
28th Oct 2011 (#)

Great advice from a man who knows

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author avatar Starrleena Magyck
28th Oct 2011 (#)

good advice....thanks for sharing...

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author avatar Twomoon
28th Oct 2011 (#)

WOW, this was well written and a great load of information, very helpful!

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author avatar Songbird B
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Really informative, and practical too. Great article about preparing your Hobby Farm for Winter..Well deserved Star Page, Mark..

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author avatar Randy Duckworth
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Very helpful information. Thanks Mark!

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author avatar Buzz
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Good advice, Mark.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Very good and informative advice:0)

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author avatar jayababy
29th Oct 2011 (#)

It shows your expertise. Is winter that bad there to take such precautions?

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author avatar Buzz
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Mark, you must be spending a lot of money for the upkeep of these animals. It amazes me how you can moderate and at the same time write articles in between. Loved the way you do it. How do you do that, feed, moderate, write?

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author avatar LOVERME
29th Oct 2011 (#)

sometimes they permit me
at times they don't
three poems of mine remain to be published
since aeons
thanks

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Winter here can get below -20C for weeks on end, then we have days that are +10C. Its crazy.

Its not too much work though we only have 9 sheep, lambing will be in March this time, last time it was January which was bad.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
29th Oct 2011 (#)

Fabulous page with fabulous images. Loved the one of the horses. I love horses. But it all makes me realise I'd NEVER make a farmer - not in a million years!

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author avatar D in The Darling
30th Oct 2011 (#)

Great piece of writing Mark. I enjoy reading your work just like I like you moderating my work.

To say the truth, if it was possible, I'd ask wikinut to make you the default moderator of my stuff..

You're just awesome. Keep up the great work. God bless!

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author avatar Sam Bralley
30th Oct 2011 (#)

very good article and well written...

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author avatar David Reinstein,LCSW
31st Oct 2011 (#)

Hi Mark,
Not the right place but there is nowhere else to do it:
Thanks for moving my piece on expressing condolences to a better place.
David

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author avatar Bridgitte Williams
2nd Nov 2011 (#)

Excellent winter hobby farm tips!! :-) Well done!

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author avatar LOVERME
4th Nov 2011 (#)

i came to see
was being read
happy
but dissapointed
i can't post poetry

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author avatar christopheranton
6th Nov 2011 (#)

If I die, and come back, I
hope I come back as one of your animals.
They have a lovely life.

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author avatar Denise O
29th Nov 2011 (#)

If the blood in a peacocks tail freezes they will die. I have never heard of this, how interesting. I also have never taken into consideration that there is air in the snow. Very interesting and educational information on preparing your hobby farm for the winter. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
29th Nov 2011 (#)

Yes, in very cold weather it kills a lot of older peacocks, the younger ones with shorter tails often live, and those kept in warmer barns are fine too.

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author avatar shaheda
10th Jun 2012 (#)

Very helpful article.

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