Our Central Minnesota autumn was lacking in sunshine and normal temperatures. But after below-normal temperatures, we have been given a slight reprieve! These days can be an advantage and used to get ready for the season of winter. The 2020 Old Farmer,s Almanac calls for a winter of frequent snow events–at least seven big snowstorms from Coast to Coast! In the Heartland of the USA, the almanac is predicting below-normal temps through Valentine’s Day, but in the Midwest it is predicted to last well into spring, and may well feel like a never-ending winter! ( https://www.almanac.com/old-farmers-almanac-2020-winter-forecast )
Is the almanac right? Who knows–time will tell! So, maybe it’s best to just prepare for the worst! South Dakota State University Extension Dairy Field Specialist, Tracey Erickson, has an excellent article, “Winter Preparedness on the Dairy Farm.” She provides a thorough checklist for getting ready for Old Man Winter! Below you will find a summary of actions to take, but you can find the complete article here: https://extension.sdstate.edu/winter-preparedness-dairy-farm
1. Get the area around the barn and farm yard clear of items that could be buried by snow and get entangled in the snow blower.
2. Put up snow fences or snow breaks to reduce the size of the snow drifts and have some control over where the snow drifts locate.
3. Bring in fill now to help some possible muddy areas that will develop with the snow melt in the spring.
4. Barn and Facility Maintenance: check, repair and maintain curtains, ventilation fans, roofs and rafters.
5. Equipment Maintenance: test and service generator, winterize and service farm and snow removal equipment.
6. Food & Water: Repair leaking waterlines/fountains, check heating elements, keep adequate feed supply on hand
7. Animal Shelter & Health: provide wind protection for all outdoor animals, keep adequate veterinary supplies and bedding on hand, adjust feed rations for cold winter
8. Develop a plan with your milk haulers and milk buyers for options if milk is unable to be picked up for an extended period of time.
What will the Winter Preparedness Plan for your farm be? Get started today!