When winter weather enters the farm, the animals need extra protection just as we do. Whether you have a large farm or a small hobby farm with only an animal or two, you need to prepare your barnyard for winter. To be sure your animals are safe and warm, follow this list of precautions you need to follow and things to check on to be sure your farmyard is ready for the cool, crisp, and frigid winter months that are to follow.
The first thing you should prepare for the lowering temperatures is your water source for your animals. If you are fortunate to have a heated electric waterer, you should not have to worry too much about the water freezing. However, most small animal farms have only water troughs that will need a heater for remain thawed during the winter. You can purchase a simple water heater at your local farm supply store. These heaters can be submersed in the water container and plugged into a standard AC outlet. Be sure you have your water heater installed and tested prior to any deep freeze to assure your animals will have fresh water available.
The next thing you need to check is your shelter. Animals must be able to protect themselves from heavy drafts that occur in winter storms. Examine your shed, barn or lean to and see if there are any large cracks where the wind may blow though. If there are large openings, you will need to patch them up for the best wind protection for your animals. The floor should also be dry and the opening of the shelter should face the south if possible. A south facing shelter will be warmer, and provide better protection from the frigid northern winds.
You also need to secure an ample food source supply to last through the winter. By purchasing enough hay and feed to last the winter you can avoid the high prices that come in winter. Estimate how much hay you will need and be sure to buy extra. There will undoubtedly be very cold spells throughout the winter when you will need to increase the daily feed amount to help your animals withstand the frigid temperatures.
Bedding is also very important for the winter months. Straw is the most common source of bedding, but you can use wood shavings as well. Have an abundant amount of the bedding you prefer so that your animals can have a thick layer of bedding to keep them warm. This is especially important if any of your farm animals are due to give birth and have young during the cold months. Bedding can protect the animals from the cold of the ground, and they will often try to make a bed and pile the bedding all around them foro insulation.
If you have animals that need extra help to stay warm, be sure you check your heat sources. Heat lamps need to be inspected, and if they are old or need work, it is always best to buy new. You never want to loose your animals or barn because of a faulty heat lamp. Old, sick, or young animals may need some extra heat to stay warm in the bitter cold winter months.
Your animals can withstand extreme temperatures, but you need to provide them with feed, water and a safe environment to live in. During the winter months it is necessary to keep a very close eye on all your animals to be sure they are thriving in the cold weather. By checking off this list in the fall, you can be better prepared for any surprises that winter may bring your way!