The pending arrival of winter can bring with it feelings of joy and happiness as we look forward to the holiday season and the family festivities that surround it. However, as we all know, it also brings a change in weather, and depending on your region, that change in weather can be severe and, in some cases, quick. So how do you prepare your farm for winter's wrath?
Well, first let’s look at your barn and other buildings. The first thing we want to look at is the physical building itself. You want to do the following:
- Stop any cold air entering through damaged doors and windows.
- Trim or clean up any trees near buildings to prevent them from falling in a winter storm.
- Ensure your roof is in tip-top shape, as it is your main barrier against winter storms.
- If you use winter inserts or covers on your fans, check that they are all in good condition.
- Inspect curtains for damage and ensure that they are in full-operating condition.
- Check your supply room to ensure you have an adequate stock of vet supplies, pesticides, etc., as some of these items may have long lead times.
Another key area of your farm to look at would be your tractors and other equipment:
- Do fall or winter maintenance, such as oil changes, on your tractors and any equipment you plan to use for snow removal.
- Perform maintenance and test your generator to ensure safety during a storm.
- Ensure that you have enough fuel on site for all equipment.
When looking at your animals, here some key items to consider:
- If you have calf hutches, ensure that they are protected from the wind and elements as much as possible.
- Bring in adequate bedding material for the animals on your farm.
- If you use them, have calf jackets and warming lights available.
With winter approaching, it is the ideal time to review your “I should get to that sometime” list. We all have those things that we have put off for another day or two. Are there things on your list that you can complete before winter sets in?
Take some time to review your winterization priorities with your staff. Ensure that they also understand the priorities for preparing for winter. Talk to them about what happens if inclement weather prevents them from getting to work on time, and put a plan in place to deal with those situations.
While you are busy getting your dairy farm ready for winter, it is also a good time to check in with your neighbours as well. How are they getting prepared for winter? Is there something they are doing that you could also implement on your farm?
While winter weather can be disruptive to a dairy farm, proper planning and preparing can go a long way in ensuring that your dairy farm reaches spring in the best possible condition.