Keep your farm thriving this winter

Preparing for winter properly will help you (and your critters) thrive during the harsh months.

We’ve prepared a list to help you keep track of your most critical winter tasks.

Keep the farm running

Keep water from freezing. For livestock, snow is not enough to keep them hydrated during the winter. You can keep their water from freezing by investing in stock tank heaters or de-icers, placing the tank in an area protected from the elements, or even insulating the tank or pipes.

Cover plants and use cover crops. By protecting your plants and crops in the winter, you can better preserve the underground root systems and microbiology, leading to healthier, nutrient-rich soil.

Prepare shelter and wind breaks. Even the hardiest breeds need shelter for harsh winter winds and the freezing cold. Winterize sheds and barns and provide lots of dry hay for bedding down.

Ventilate shelters. Stagnant airflow allows dust, pathogens, and moisture to build up in crowded shelters and can affect your livestock’s health. While it’s more work upfront, it saves the hassle of sick animals, weakened buildings, and increased operational costs.

Set up for any babies. Set up a dry, warm spot for any expecting mothers. A layer of sawdust or sand with straw or wood shavings on top can create a comfy space for moms and babies to snuggle. A wet baby exposed to the icy cold is bad for everyone, so have blankets or jackets ready when the time comes. Heat lamps, when used carefully, can also help.,

Get rid of ice dams on roofs. Ice dams are ice ridges that form on the edge of a roof and prevent melting snow from draining off and can cause serious damage.

Stay safe

Map out all water areas. Everyone on or visiting the farm should know where ponds, streams, and lagoons are located. It can be hard to tell where the water’s edge begins when the pond is iced over and covered in snow.

Tell someone where and when you’ll be working. Telling someone where you’ll be working and when you’ll be done will help people know when to start worrying, and give you a better chance of survival in case of a serious accident.

Dress warmly.

  • Invest in high-quality gear and layer it accordingly. Consider the weight and materials of your clothes, which should insulate, wick moisture away from your body, and provide a layer of waterproofing. Heavier clothes can keep you warmer but can also take up more energy.
  • Your boots should have a good sole with lots of traction to prevent slips and falls. They should be as waterproof as possible, because if your feet stay wet and cold for too long, you could develop trench foot. Wet feet lose heat much faster than dry feet, so good boots are extremely important.
  • You can complete tasks more quickly with flexible, warm gloves than flimsy, cheap ones.
  • Wait 10 minutes after dressing before you go outside so you have time to regulate your body temperature.

Remember your safety gear. This can include your first aid kit, multitool, headlamp, and your radio or cellphone.

Salt and sand paths. While your boots should have good traction, covering common paths will help prevent falls and speed things up on the farm.

Watch the weather and don’t rush. Farm work in the winter is slow and arduous. Conditions can change in the blink of an eye. Be prepared to have to come back to tasks — there will be times when you simply need to stop working and head home to stay safe.

Is your farm insurance ready for winter?

 

Grinnell Mutual cannot be held responsible or liable for damages, direct or indirect, which may arise, in part or in whole, from the use of this poster or from any representation or misrepresentation contained therein. Also, it cannot be assumed that all acceptable safety and health measures are listed on this poster. “Trust in Tomorrow.” and “Grinnell Mutual” are property of Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company. © Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, 2018.