How to Prepare a Livestock Barn for Winter

BNelsonStarred Page By BNelson, 21st Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Farm Animals

Before it gets too cold you need to get your barns and chicken coops ready for winter. This is something that you can do early in the fall before it gets too cold. Learn some simple tips to prepare your barn before winter.

Get Your Barn Ready for Winter

As winters chill sets upon us we must think of our outdoor animals and particularly livestock. Having a winterized barn is very important especially if we are expecting calves, lambs, foals, and so on, throughout the winter months. A winterized barn is also a necessity for those animals which cannot tolerate below freezing temperatures, such as goats, and some fowl. As well the barn provides a safe haven for sick or injured animals should an emergency arise.

The first thing that should be addressed is barn safety, have a walk around and make sure the stalls are in good condition with no nails sticking out. Look for loose boards and fill in any holes if the floor is dirt. Check to make sure all the doors are secure, and that they open and close easily, check the condition of all latches.

The next thing to cover is draft proofing. Many barns, and particularly old ones, have drafty cracks, and broken windows. Cracks can be covered or filled. Broken windows can be replaced or covered with cardboard or plywood. Although you do want to prevent drafts you do not necessarily want an air tight barn. Depending on what animals we are housing, you may want some ventilation so the barn does not get unpleasantly hot or humid.

The animal's body heat will warm up the barn somewhat depending on how many animals you have in ratio to the size of the barn. This is particularly important to consider if the animals are in at night and out in the day. You do not want the barn to get too warm if they are going to go out in the day as this is harder on their bodies.

Heating a Barn?

Not all barns have heat. Check the furnace and replace, or clean, filters as needed. Test it to make sure it is working properly and have repairs done if needed. As mentioned above, furnaces should not be kept so hot the animals get acclimatized to a warm barn and then go out in the day to freezing temperatures. The climate should be set with the livestock in mind, not the people, as they can add extra coats when working in the barn.

If you heat with propane make sure you have your tank ready.

Check that your heat lamps are working if you use them over the winter.

Note that our barn does not have heat, nor running water. We only bring the sheep in at night in the winter months, they are outside all day unless they have young lambs with them.

If you have chickens you want to pay attention to how many birds you have per your space as they will keep each other warm.

Rain, Snow, and Water

On a rainy day check the barn for leaking holes in the roof. Another way of checking for holes is by going into the barn on a sunny day, shutting all doors, and with the lights off, look up to see spots of sun sneaking in through the roof area. Newer barns should not have this problem, but old wooden ones often develop holes over time, and these should be fixed before the snow falls, or heavier rains come.

If the barn has automatic waterer's in the stalls or any running water, it is important that these be insulated to prevent the lines from freezing. Cover pipes with insulation. Even if this was done in previous years it should be rechecked to be sure the insulation is still in place for the upcoming winter. This is also a good time to clean out any waterer's and check to make sure they are all working.

Other Tips and Ideas

It is a good idea to move as much feed indoors in warmer weather rather than leaving it until the last minute. Plan on restocking your feed room as needed on warm days.

Bed the stalls deep and have extra bedding available.

Be sure to keep a flashlight handy in the feed room, or other accessible location, in case of power outages. Check and replace any burnt out light bulbs and have a few extra on hand.

Have a snow shovel at the door of your barn in case you need one!

Every livestock operation, or hobby farm, is different, some people only bring their animals at night, some keep them in all the time, and some only bring them in in extreme temperatures, or when birthing. The above winterizing suggestions might not apply to all situations, but may offer ideas or cover things people had not thought of.

Tags

Barn, Coop, Farm Animals, Keep Out Drafts, Livestock, Prepare For Winter, Winter, Winterizing

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author avatar BNelson
I write on many topics but am mostly interested in pets and animals.

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Comments

author avatar brendamarie
21st Oct 2015 (#)

very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
21st Oct 2015 (#)

Brenda, excellent article. When I read this article I had to smile because it is so obvious that you have spent many winters with very cold temperatures. It gets really cold where we live too but we don't have a barn or outside animals. I think your tips covered just about everything that I could think of for very cold spells. We've also been preparing for winter. Every year we stock our pantry and our heating supplies for the extreme temperatures. When we have blizzards we do have snowplows to dig us out but sometimes it takes awhile till the roads are passable. I really enjoyed reading your article and loved the pictures. You have a beautiful barn. How many animals stay in your barn in the winter?

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
21st Oct 2015 (#)

Congratulations on the shiny gold star. It is so deserved!

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
21st Oct 2015 (#)

Hi Nancy,
Brenda is at work now. Only the sheep go in the barn at night in the winter. The donkey and llama stay outside but have another barn they can go in if they want, its an old barn with no door. We have only 5 sheep now, and no lambs expected this winter.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
21st Oct 2015 (#)

Mark, I believe I've seen your other barn. I think Brenda shared it on the other site. Do the donkey and llama go in the barn with no door when it gets really cold? Your barn is so nice for the sheep. They are very fortunate to have a place to stay when it's really cold at night. Great article! Thanks for responding Mark.

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