Livestock are usually made of tough stuff, but the winter months can be a little more challenging for farmers.
There are a few things which you can do to make things that little bit easier when looking after livestock throughout the winter, which we’re going to take a quick look at.
Of course, access to clean water is crucial to the wellbeing of livestock, and this can be difficult to provide in wintery conditions.
The amount of water that an animal needs will vary greatly, with sheep needing as little as three gallons, and cattle requiring as much as 14.
To ensure that your livestock get this, you need to make sure that the water doesn’t freeze.
This could be achieved using tank heaters, or might have use something to insulate the water containers.
Another good trick is to place a football in a water trough so that it keeps the water circulating around so it freezes slower.
For more information on how to prevent your livestock water from freezing, check out this post from Off the Grid News.
While your livestock will require more energy during winter, it’s important that any feed increases are introduced gradually, so we’d recommend feeding by hand to help gauge their appetite.
While it might be tempting to just ‘drop and run’, it’s important to keep an eye on the livestock when feeding so you can stay on top of any appetite changes.
In addition, group feeding directly off the ground can actually lead to around 50% of hay being wasted.
Whichever method you choose to go for, it’s important to make sure that the animals all have good access to the food, so you might wish to separate them into smaller groups based on their feeding requirements.
Alternatively, you could try one of our feeding systems such as the Wasserbauer Butler to help evenly distribute the feed.
While most livestock are fairly happy outdoors during winter, it’s still important to provide them with plenty of cover and shelter.
While they might be perfectly happy out in the fields, being protected from the wind and the rain will mean that livestock will require led food and water and make them more comfortable.
Bedding should be kept as dry and clean as possible to ensure that animals are insulated from the cold ground below, and it might be a good idea to invest in a
Finally, you should also make sure that there is enough ventilation to allow fresh air, but while making sure that there isn’t a draft.
As more animals tend to fall ill during the winter months, we’d recommend giving them a full check over, including giving them any vaccinations they might need, deworming and checking for lice and parasites.
In terms of exercise, we spoke to Derby House equestrian supplies who said: “Exercise is just as important during winter as it is at any other time of year, even if it can be a little more difficult.
“Make sure that your livestock are still getting out and about, even if it’s just around the yard to get their food. This will also help avoid hoof problems (you should be checking hooves more regularly during winter, as often as once a day).”