As December fast approaches, winter weather will follow soon. The fall season is the perfect time to winterize your ranch and stock up on essentials before the cooler temps hit. There are a few key ways you can ensure your livestock operation is prepared to weather the cold. Keep reading for your Ranch Winterization Checklist:
1. Protect Your Barns, Stables, and Outbuildings
Barns, stables, coops, and other ranch buildings shelter your ranch’s most valuable assets, so make sure they’re in optimal condition before temperatures drop. These structures protect your livestock, feed, and equipment; so if they’re not properly protected from the elements, they won’t be able to shield your assets well.
Check on your buildings’ roofs, insulation, and potential hazards to confirm their ability to protect your assets. When it comes to roofing, take a look at your shingles to ensure they’re in good condition and check for any existing or potential leaks. When it comes to protecting your livestock, make sure that your barns, stables, and coops are well-insulated. The less their environment changes with the seasons, the better. It’s also essential to check for any potential internal or external threats - any holes, fire hazards, overhanging branches, etc. If you have cattle, be sure to identify any windbreaks for your herd. You may need to fix or add windbreaks and shelters to provide sufficient wind protection. Identify and prepare your winter grazing fields, keeping in mind that cattle can graze through almost a foot of snow if needed.
2. Stock Up on Supplies
Winter is unpredictable, especially in Texas. It’s impossible to know how the season will affect availability on essentials like feed and water. Furthermore, icy roads and weather-related power outages can impact deliveries and shipping for products that have to be ordered or imported. When you have stocked up on feed, you can cut down on feed waste by using feeders that control the output and making sure feed is only available in a dry environment to protect it from moisture. Also, make sure your livestock have constant access to a source of clean water. As far as essential supplies go, make sure you have these supplies on hand:
• Sand and Rock Salt: Keep supplies on hand that can help break down ice and prevent slippery surfaces on roads and flooring.
• Medical Supplies: keep essentials on hand to be prepared for any emergencies, like bandages, disposable gloves, epsom salts, thermometers, ointments, etc. You should also set aside a space in a heated, insulated area where livestock can be safely treated and tended to.
• Generator: Power outages are a given in cold weather, so don’t risk losing heat or fresh water for your livestock or yourself!
• Fuel: Make sure you have plenty of gasoline, propane and diesel on hand to fuel tractors, generators and trucks.
• Pantry Goods: Ranching families need fuel, too, to get through a cold spell. What do you have on hand in your pantry that could be prepared quickly and possibly without a heat source?
3. Take Every Precaution
Preparing livestock for winter starts long before the season hits. Make sure your animals have a solid foundation in health and nutrition so they can survive and thrive through the harsher months ahead. Do an extra health check, consult your veterinarian for any vaccination needs, and keep an eye out for winter lice, disease, or rot.
Complete fall maintenance on all of your equipment, including chutes, fences, and tractors. Check on anything that may need to be reinforced or adjusted. With less daylight hours, it’s also important to add extra lighting to any facilities or invest in additional flashlights and headlamps. Check in with your neighbors too - if you have any elderly neighbors who may need extra assistance if a storm hits, be prepared to lend a helping hand. Most of all, keep an eye on the forecast. You don’t want a winter storm to catch you by surprise. Stay prepared for the worst, and hope for the best.
It always pays to be prepared! Winterizing your ranch will save time and money in the long run. With healthy livestock, less waste, and reinforced facilities, your operation should be ready to withstand the colder weather. Winter is coming, but it doesn’t have to sabotage your ranch.Richmond Frasier • Broker on