Winter and Farm: Some Successful Ideas for Farming in Wintry Weather
Winter is a very challenging season for agriculture, but farmers know this is not a reason to stop. The livestock and crops won’t be able to survive on their own, so someone needs to brave the cold and do the chores. But while work has to continue, safety should always be a priority as many things could go wrong in an instant.
Conditions during winter could bring different kinds of danger to a farm and its inhabitants. A sudden snowstorm could paralyze your operations. Prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperature outdoors can cause frostbite, which in worst cases, could lead to loss of limbs. Or heavy snow piling up on the roof could cause it to collapse.
These are just some examples of the hazards of farming during winter. However, if you take the necessary precautions, you can prevent any of these from happening on your farm. Here are steps you can take to ensure successful farming in wintry weather:
1. Provide A Shield for Your Crops
Adding a layer of protection for your crops would help them survive better in the freezing temperature. You can use a row cover, frost blanket, tarp, or plastic materials to warm up the temperature around your plants, as well as block off the harsh winter winds. These types of shelters can protect them in case it gets below 30ºF.
If you live in an area that gets really cold winters, and you expect the temperature to drop even lower than 30ºF, you should prepare double layers of these materials. Just make sure that they are tied securely on the ground, so they will not get blown off and that cold air will not seep in. Leave enough space so that the material of the cover will not touch the leaves as this may damage the crops, and remember to take them off during days when the sun is out.
Cover crops may also be planted during winter to protect your soil from erosion and freezing that can affect its fertility. Legumes, grains, grasses, or brassicas are some of the plants that can be used as cover crops to help the soil absorb water and retain moisture during winter. You may also want to consider setting up a greenhouse that can provide a controlled environment for your crops the whole y.
2. Your Health Is Important
Your crops and livestock are not the only ones that can freeze when the weather drops below zero. You and your workers are also at risk not only with potential accidents but for contacting various illnesses as well. Remember to place safety first when working, especially during winter.
Reduce risks of frostbite or hypothermia by wearing protective gear suitable to the temperature and weather conditions. Layer your clothing to trap the heat within your body, and make sure to keep your hands warm with gloves. Bring an extra pair of gloves that you can wear in case you get your hands wet while working.
Cover your head with a suitable hat that can reach up to your ears and even parts of your face if needed. Cold can seep in through the head, and as much as 40% of the body heat can escape if the head is left uncovered.
3. Maintain Flowing Water
At freezing temperatures, it can be very challenging to source water for your farm. In most cases, melting snow would not be enough to supply all your needs. Luckily, advances in technology have created more options for supplying water during winter, such as using a heating device, adding insulation to maintain warm temperatures in your water storage, or pour in warm water to heat up your container.
Before the temperature drops, you can also make preparations in advance. Disconnect and drain water lines that can be emptied, such as sprinklers or garden hoses, so they will not freeze and trap water inside. Install insulation between your outer wall and water pipe, but remove insulation from the inner walls, so the heat inside the building can help warm up your pipes.
4. Keep the Livestock Dry and Warm
Many types of farm animals can tolerate cold and damp temperatures, but they cannot stay there for long. You need to provide them with a dry and warm place to stay to get them through the winter. You also need to make sure they get adequate air, food, and bedding to keep them healthy.
Ensure proper ventilation to prevent suffocation from ammonia gas, as well as prevent a possible spread of contagious diseases. Clean the living areas regularly, throw out the manure and replace hay that has gotten damp or wet. Leave enough space for the animals to move around, so they can exercise their muscles. If you need additional manpower to help you with these chores, our website can connect you to the right people.
5. Choose Your Winter Breed
To minimize your headaches over livestock care during winter, you may want to consider breeding or purchasing animals that have a stronger physique and a higher tolerance for cold temperatures. For example, some types of cattle are better suited for cold weather than others, such as bison, alpacas, and llamas.
With pigs, hairier breeds like Tamworth or Mangalista are more compatible with winter temperatures. When it comes to fowls, ducks and geese have sturdier bodies than chickens, though some chicken breeds could also do well in the cold.