As the snowy season turns, don’t get caught out in the cold withthese cold weather care tips for your ranch animals. In cold climates, you’ll need to take care to give your ranch livestock and animals the care and attention they need. From shelter to feed, be sure you’re ready for the cold weather.
The Importance of Cold Weather Care for Ranch Animals
Winter isn’t just harsh on your fields, but you’ll need to prepare your animals and livestock for the snowy months too. When it comes to cold weather care for ranch animals, there are a few hard-and-fast rules to follow.
Always check in with your ranch management team to make sure everyone is on the same page with winter care for your cattle and other ranch animals. You’ll want to make sure you’ve prepared properly and all of your fall ranch maintenance is complete. Here’s a look at what you need to do to care for your ranch animals over winter.
Keep Enough Feed for Winter
First up, you’ll want to check in on your food and water stock. Since you’ll likely be keeping most of your ranch animals indoors during the bitter winter, their diet will change. Ensure you have enough hay, grain, and dietary supplements to ensure your livestock is happy and healthy. Healthy livestock means a healthy ranch which leads to more income.
Clear the Snow
Next up, be sure to have a snow maintenance plan. This is especially important with mountain ranches. You’ll want to make sure you have proper snow removal equipment to clear pathways for you, your staff, and your animals. Be sure to keep an eye on common winter issues like downed fencing, debris from storms, and icy pathways. These can cause broken bones and lame animals.
Keep Water from Freezing
Don’t forget to turn on heated waterers during the winter. Turn them on early and double-check so you aren’t surprised by a sudden winter storm. You can also use water heaters and heated buckets. Regardless, winter causes the air to dry, leaving animals more thirsty than usual. So provide plenty of access to warm water.
Give Plenty of Shelter and Warmth
Access to shelter is paramount for cold weather care for your animals. It’s no longer warm enough for animals to pasture graze (the ground is frozen and nutrients has been sucked from dead grasses).
You’ll need a windbreak at the very minimum, with access to an enclosed shelter for the best winter care for your ranch animals. Make sure that roofs, ventilation, windows, doors, and everything in between is in working order. A warm, enclosed environment keeps your animals clean, dry and cozy during the frigid temps.
Bulk Up on Bedding
Bedding brings valuable insulation between your animals and frozen ground. Have a plan to keep bedding dry throughout the winter (sawdust layers help) and regularly turn bedding to keep it from rotting throughout the season.
You’ll want added bedding in the winter, since animals will need more insulation than they do in the summer months. Wet bedding spells disaster and possible disease so be sure to have a proper maintenance plan with your bedding stock.
Monitor Your Ranch Animals in Winter
Always be on the lookout for odd behavior, wounds, limps, loss of appetite, and bad bowel movements. When animals are housed in close quarters, disease and injury risks increase. Always keep an eye on your animals throughout winter. Call your ranch vet as soon as you notice a problem.
Overall, cold weather care for ranch animals takes a little bit of time and prep. Have a plan in place, and adjust as-needed throughout winter. Winter storms can do a number on ranch facilities, so always be on the lookout for issues to ensure your animals are cozy and healthy.