Winter is almost here, so it's time to prep the farm for the cold weather! We do a lot of preparation to ensure we have enough supplies on hand and equipment is ready, so we can take care of the cattle during the low temperatures.
One of the main things we stock up on is hay to feed the cattle. When snow is covering the pastures and the grass isn't growing, the cattle need another food source. Hay bales can be ground up every day to feed larger herds, or they can be put in a bale feeder and it's like an all-day buffet for the cattle.
When it comes to keeping the cattle warm, we use a different type of bale for that - We use cornstalk bales as bedding for the cattle. This helps keep them warm and cozy, especially during calving season when there is a mama and baby to keep warm.
Water management is the next thing we prepare for the temperatures. It is extremely important to make sure that all of the water tanks that provide the cattle with water are ready for the cold weather. When the water freezes over, cattle are unable to drink. Some tanks are automatically heated, which is really nice when they work, but a huge pain if they freeze up. Maintenance before freezing temperatures is important to make sure they are in good-condition. We also lower the water level during the winter, so the water doesn't freeze as easily.
If the cattle are grazing on cornstalks or on pasture, some fields have streams running through them that work as a great water source for the cattle. This year, the summer drought dried up some of the streams, so we have to make alternate plans if there isn't enough water. When the streams are running, we check water every day to make sure they aren't frozen, and if they are, we use an axe to break the ice to make sure the cattle can drink.
A big part of prepping for the winter is ensuring that mamas and babies are happy and healthy. This means a lot of prep work goes into ensuring that the area where the mama cows give birth is fully prepped. This includes cleaning and ensuring we have all the tools to assist the cow in labor if needed.
As winter approaches, our top priority on the farm is ensuring a smooth transition for our cattle. Cattle caretakers are dedicated to taking the best care of them possible!