Preparing for winter can be a tedious task, it can be very overwhelming to a new farm owner trying to remember all that needs to be done. If you have many animals on your farm they do require different care during the winter. We are here to help you feel more prepared by laying out some basic Livestock care for during the winter. We all want to do the best that we can for our farms and our animals, here is what you need to know!

Water

The majority of our livestock have water openly available to them in large quantities throughout the spring, summer and fall. It can take us a little by surprise how much the drink during the winter when we may be keeping the livestock indoors. Cows drink several gallons of water per day so it is important that they have ample water available to them. If you live in an especially cold environment then you can help your animals by having tank warmers for your water. Yes, it does take up energy to keep the tanks warm but it is more efficient than constantly having to go and break the ice from your livestocks water several times per day. Keep in mind that lactating animals, such as milk cows, will require even more water. Water needs to be fresh and clean to keep your animals in optimum condition.

Feeding

During the winter you should never consider skimping on feed. Doing the warmer months most of our animals can graze and forage. That makes their diets more nutritious and has a better variety. Animals need great quality food especially in the winter, so keep that in mind. Chickens require a high protein diet during winter. This keeps them healthy and laying eggs. If chickens don’t get enough protein they start to pluck their own feathers to make up for deficiencies. This is definitely a situation that we all want to avoid for our livestock. Don’t forget to keep your salt and minerals filled up for your animals, those nutrients are essential to get through the winter. Keeping fresh hay out at all times is a simple way to help your animals.

Shelter

Luckily, most animals are able to tough it out outside during the winter. If you are leaving livestock outside it is important to give them some shelter such as a windbreak. Having a block from the wind will keep you animals much more comfortable. Remember that if you keep your livestock in a barn that the barn must be very well ventilated. Sometimes having an open air covered shelter with a windbreak can be a better choice. Keeping animals in a poorly ventilated area will cause respiratory issues and will cause winter casualties. Chickens, unlike other livestock, do require more shelter. Chickens do need a warm place to roost so a heating lamp is sometimes needed for them.

Animals, such as milk cows or pregnant animals will sometimes need extra care and shelter from the climate to keep them healthy and strong. If you are using windbreaks outside then it is a good choice to move the windbreaks every so often. This keeps the area from getting to muddy, and contaminated from manure. Keeping shelter for the animals that need it will help you keep your animals safe and healthy.

Winter can be a tough time for new farmers. However, when you have done research and have talked to other, more experienced farmers, you will be able to see it through. When you have a plan in place and you have a list of the things that need to be done it will not seem like such an overwhelming task.