I am taking part in a posting series related to the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.”
Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter. I am a teaming up with several other bloggers to bring you this series.
Today’s topic is “Cold Weather Animal Care.” The participating blogs for this week include:
In our area winter preparations include preparing for any and all eventualities. Mid Atlantic weather is unpredictable at best. We have had early snow storms, mid winter flooding from rain, and fluctuating temperatures. Setting up our animal housing for varying conditions helps us be ready for winter.
Since we raise and care for a wide variety of animals on our farm, we spend a large part of each day taking care of the animals needs. The needs don’t necessarily change that much from one season to another, but how we go about providing those needs can change. The need for clean water, fresh feed, forage, and shelter remain the same. But during a freak heavy snow storm, how we go about tending to these needs will change.
In the chicken pen and coop, we start by cleaning out the coop. Performing a deep cleaning before cold weather helps us begin a deep litter formation before the cold weather hits. Keeping the coop floor free of dampness and wet spots lets the manure and litter work together to keep the coop smelling fresh. After this is accomplished, we will add dry straw and litter as needed but usually will not perform another deep, complete clean out until early spring. For more on coop cleaning and deep litter method see my post on Keeping Your Chicken Coop Smelling Fresh.
We check water founts, feed bowls and gates and doors. I recommend using the rubber feed bowls for water during the winter. If the water in the bowl freezes overnight, a simple twist or turning the bowl over and stepping on it will release the ice cube so you can refill the bowl. Having fresh water available at all times is important in the winter just as in the summer. If you have electric available, there are water heaters that can be used with metal water founts. Also, plastic water founts are available with a built in water heater.
Check the perimeter of the coop building for areas where rodents may have chewed their way into the coop. Repair these spots promptly, preferably with cement and wire. You don’t want to be providing food and warm housing for a large family of rodents all winter.
Goats normally do not like wet ground or wet weather. Make sure that their shelter is in good repair for the winter months so they have a good shelter ready. Have extra empty buckets ready for mornings when the water is frozen solid and you need to refill a fresh bucket. Again, the rubber buckets are easier to remove ice from, than a plastic bucket. We have to occasionally haul water from the house in the winter because the water at the barn freezes up. We gather up some one gallon jugs to use on these mornings and keep them available. Some mornings I carry as much as 12 gallons of water to the goats and chickens in the morning or evening.
The cows and pigs have run-in type sheds for shelter. Our preparation for them involves repairing any roof issues or broken boards and making sure the straw bedding is dry. We use submersible water tank heaters for the cows and pigs so making sure the electricity is hooked up properly is part of our winter prep.
Another note about rodents. Cleaning up any clutter from the warm weather months will help keep rodents from setting up home on your farm or back yard. Miscellaneous clutter of cages, tarps, fence boards etc, gives rodents a place to hide from predators and winter weather. Neatly and properly store excess farm stuff away from your animal buildings.
A little time spent during the pleasant fall weather can help you breeze through winter weather this year.
Shared on : The Rural Economist