By Albert Makendenge

Freezing temperatures can make winter a very trying period for most farmers if they are not well prepared. Below are some ways that farmers can try out to keep themselves and their land, animal and plants in good shape.

  • Covering plants and the use of cover crops – cover material is meant to keep cold off of the plants and to keep heat around them. Cover crops will cover the soil and provide the root systems for the microbiology below the surface to gain and retain nutrients.
  • Avoiding cold or ice water – keeping water from getting too cold or freezing is very important since livestock need a lot of water. This can simply be done by making use of affordable devices that heat the water or some that circulate the water like a creek.
  • Blocking the wind – although most plants and livestock can handle pretty low temperatures, it is usually the wind that they cannot handle. Thick edges of trees or physical barriers such as barns or gates with blankets can help break the wind.
  • Dry shelter – livestock should be provided with a place that is warm and dry. They can either get wet or they can get cold but they do not have to get both wet and cold.
  • Raising hardy breeds – the best way to avoid livestock issues in the winter is obviously to breed or purchase hardier animals.
  • Protecting the feed – rodents have a greater need for food during the winter and they can easily destroy and invade feed supplies that are not kept safe. Feed should be kept in rodent proof houses.
  • Setting up birthing centers – if a farmer is expecting baby animals in the winter, a warm, safe spot should be prepared ahead of time.
  • Proper ventilation – any barn or shelter in which the farmer plans to house animals for winter must have proper ventilation or the animals may end up having severe skin, eye respiratory issues.
  • Securing back up power – whether it is for electric fences, water heaters or just for house, having a backup source of electricity to keep any or all of them running is very good idea.

Finally the farmers themselves cannot forget to keep warm. Always make sure to stuff towels under doors and caulk your windows. Drink lots of water, exercise, eat a lot of hardy food and take care of yourself.  

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