Winter is just around the corner, and this particular season is one of the hardest on animals as well as farmers. If you aren't prepared for the cold months ahead, the season can be truly brutal. Are you ready? Is your farm ready? If not, here are a few tips to help you get ready before the temperatures start dropping and the snow starts falling.
Tip #1: Inspect and Prepare the Shelters
Though cold temperatures bother animals, they are far more sensitive to being wind-blown and wet. Therefore, it is important that you ensure all animal shelters are windproof and leakproof—or as much as possible anyway. This may require making repairs to the roof, building shutters for the windows, etc. If you need an inexpensive option, take some chicken feed bags and staple them across window openings, as this will make a world of difference and your animals will thank you.
Tip #2: Bring Your Feeders Inside or Provide Cover for Them
If you leave your animal feeders uncovered, rain can get into them. When this happens, the feed will be ruined—and feed is expensive! Wet feed goes bad very quickly, and if your livestock eats it, they can get sick and possibly even die from it. Believe it or not, wet alfalfa even has the ability to produce dangerous toxins, including mold. So if you don't currently have a barn that you can place your feeders in, consider investing in a large tarp. This is far more economical than replacing all of your feed.
Tip #3: Line Shelter Floors with Straw
All of your chicken coops and shelter floors should be lined with a generous layer of straw. The reason for this is because straw will assist in maintaining the nutrient content of the manure by absorbing nitrogen. Basically, this will minimize the odor in the shelters and coops, while also providing a healthy insulating layer between the wet, cold ground and your animals. Plus, straw will reduce the chance of the ground getting muddy—which is good because a muddy ground is a perfect breeding environment for worms.
Tip #4: Get Farm Insurance
Is your farm and/or livestock currently insured? If not, it's time to get insurance before Old Man Winter strikes. You may assume that your homeowners' insurance will cover any losses that occur, but it likely won't. To ensure that your farm is protected from the unexpected, talk with an insurance agent today about the varying farm insurance policies and coverage.