7 Steps to Prepare Your Barn for Winter 11/12/2014 10:24:00 AM
By Steve Judge
Tags: small farm, micro dairy, Vermont, Bob White Systems, Steve Judge
Transitioning between seasons on a farm always brings new opportunities and new hurdles. Over the years, I’ve made sure that my little barn at our micro dairy is fairly weather proof and requires very few modifications for seasonal changes. But this might not be the case on all farms, so I’ve pulled together a quick list of seven steps that can help you get your barn ready for winter.
1. Ventilation. During the winter months, all barns need a source of fresh air. In my barn, all that is required for cold weather is simply closing the windows a bit but not all the way. I leave them cracked at the top for fresh air and ventilation. The stable area is also ventilated by a variable speed wall mounted exhaust fan that sucks the stale moist air out of the barn and brings in fresh air through the partially open windows. I like to keep the stable area around 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter.
2. Winterize the water lines and troughs. I start by begrudgingly draining my water troughs and the 3/4-inch black PVC water lines that feed them when I know I can no longer avoid the freezing cold. I store the troughs inside but leave empty water lines out in the pastures for the winter. I then set up a trough for the cows close enough to the barn to fill with a hose. But thanks to the freezing temperatures in the winter, I have to break and remove ice nearly every day. And I’m tired of it — and you will be too eventually. I am planning to put a floating electric heater in the trough this winter to keep the water from freezing.
3. Barn yard clean up. Every spring and fall I thoroughly clean up the barn yard where the cows stand and linger when they eat at their feeder. I used to scrape off the manure regularly and put down a layer of hard-pack (a local form of crushed stone commonly used for driveways and dirt roads) in the fall and spring; however, I no longer do that. Instead of crush stone I now put down a thick layer of wood chips that I buy very reasonably from a local tree trimming and removal company. They work much better and last a lot longer than hard-pack. Plus they are easier on the cows' feet. And I'd much rather put a few rotten wood chips in my composted manure than crushed stones when I clean and scrape my barn yard.
4. Assess the barn yard shelter. Because I don't have to make many modifications to my barn to prepare for winter I try to make time to make one or two improvements every fall. One fault in my set up is the lack of a run-in shed for my cows where they can find shelter during miserable cold rainy fall weather when they are out of the barn. So, this year I am optimistically planning to double the size of my hay shed/calving pen that is next to the barn and make it available as a run in shed for my cows to seek shelter during inclement weather.
5. Have a plan for removing and storing manure. Cows make 100 lbs. of manure per day. In the winter months, I have clean the manure gutters daily just to keep up. This is a big change from the summer when I only clean the manure gutters once a month because the cows are outside night and day. But when the cold weather arrives and the cows are inside a lot more I shovel the manure into a wheelbarrow and dump it on a pad just outside the barn door. Then every few days, I use my small bucket tractor to move the accumulated manure to the compost pile.
6. Adding plowing to the list of chores. While plowing snow is a non-productive chore that takes a lot of time it is unavoidable in snow country. Make sure you and your equipment are ready for the worst.
7. Plan to change the feeding routine. During the summer and fall my cows eat outside. I will give them a little grain while I milk them but otherwise, in the warm months they enjoy the lush pastures around the farm. However, during the cold months I feed my cows inside primarily, both hay and grain. When possible, the cows do still go outside, especially when I clean the barn and I will give them a bit of hay or haylage to keep them occupied.
Finding time to make improvements on a small dairy is difficult, even on a Micro Dairy. Most improvements cost money and most dairy farmers hate to spend money even when they have it. Plus, time is often as scarce as money because of the time it takes to do routine chores that need to be done every day on a dairy. But it is important to keep you dairy moving forward by making even small inexpensive changes that make your micro dairy more efficient. Don’t adapt to your inefficiencies, eliminate them so you can improve the quality and flavor of your milk, reduce the time required to operate your farm and make it a more comfortable place for you and your cows, goats, sheep etc.
As I write, the weather outside today in central Vermont is cold, gray and rainy. Most of the leaves have fallen and the days are getting shorter. Looks like I am in store for a few seasonal adjustments myself. And for me those can be the toughest.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/prepare-your-barn-for-winter-zbcz1411.aspx#ixzz3J4b4UUh2
Meat, eggs, and dairy products from pastured animals are ideal for your health. Compared with commercial products, they offer you more "good" fats, and fewer "bad" fats. They are richer in antioxidants; including vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Furthermore, they do not contain traces of added hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.
Lower in Fat and Calories. There are a number of nutritional differences between the meat of pasture-raised and feedlot-raised animals. To begin with, meat from grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison is lower in total fat. If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal. In fact, as you can see by the graph below, grass-fed beef can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast, wild deer, or elk. Research shows that lean beef actually lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grassfed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year. If all Americans switched to grassfed meat, our national epidemic of obesity might diminish.
In the past few years, producers of grass-fed beef have been looking for ways to increase the amount of marbling in the meat so that consumers will have a more familiar product. But even these fatter cuts of grass-fed beef are lower in fat and calories than beef from grain-fed cattle.
My have they grown! The Berkshire piglets are 3 weeks old today. 15 boars and 5 gilts. They are enjoying the fresh greens, dirt, and leaves. And the sows are enjoying not having piglets climbing all over them.
We started training the piglets on electric fence a week ago and are tempting fate today by having electric fencing without permanent fencing behind it.
Sows beginning to wean and piglets are eating feed and hay. Wieners should be able to go to their new homes in 2 weeks.
It's labeled 'all natural', you say? You may still have paid good money for 12% to 15% added salt water.
1. Recommended daily sodium intake - !500-2300 milligrams. Just 3 oz. serving of typical injected beef contains approximately 1800 milligrams.
2. E.Coli- Needle-injected meat has been red-flagged by the Food Safety and Inspection Service as a high-risk carrier of E. coli. The needles that insert the salt solution can push bacteria on the surface deep into the meat, where cooking may not kill them.
How do you know if your meat has been pumped with salt solution? Look for small type, usually on the front of the package near the product name, which may read something like "Contains up to 15% broth OR buy meat directly from a farmer who does not use such products to 'inflate' their meat.
Source: Mother Earth News, Aug/Sept 2014
Dirty Boots Ranch is dedicated to raising animals without growth hormones, antibiotics, non-GMO feeds. You will truly receive a natural meat product!
Berkshire pork and Finnsheep lamb.
www.livestockconservancy.org "Ensuring the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry"
The Livestock Conservancy (formerly The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) is America's leading nonprofit organization working to protect nearly 200 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction.