Mother Nature is at it again. What started off as a mild winter has quickly escalated into an arctic blast, turning rural parts of the country into a frozen tundra.
Unfortunately, temperatures are projected to remain below normal for the next few weeks for nearly half of the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. With spring still nearly two months away, it’s time to take action against the freezing temperatures and winter storms. Here are a few tips to help keep your operation up and running:
Have a Plan
Meteorologists work hard to have forecasts available days and even weeks into the future. Take advantage of this! If the weather is predicted to get nasty, have a plan. According to the Center for Food Security and public health, some plans might include:
- Obtain emergency supplies of forage and grain.
- Identify emergency resources for water.
- Have a list of suppliers, truckers and people that can help with the animals and/or equipment, especially if normal working conditions are disrupted.
Hoping conditions don’t become dangerous is NOT a plan.
Prepare for the Worst
Winter storms can often bring gusty winds, heavy snow and dangerous ice. Having a working generator ready to go at a moment’s notice not only can help keep the lights on, but it can also be a life-saving device.
Have emergency food, water and blankets on hand in case weather conditions take a turn for the worst. It may also be necessary to have a stock pile of animal pharmaceuticals ready to use in case of weather related illnesses or injuries.
Watch for Freezing Pipes
Water is an essential element on every operation. If your water is frozen, however, it won’t do you much good!
A few tricks to keep your pipes from freezing include:
- Invest in foam pipe insulators, especially for pipes exposed to the elements.
- Keep barns heated. The furnace doesn’t need to be set on high, but it does need to be kept above freezing.
- If possible, keep water flowing. Moving water is less likely to freeze than water that is still.
Take Care of the Animals
Winter weather can bring extra headaches for livestock owners. Nevertheless, animals still need to be taken care of. Below are a few steps you should consider when caring for livestock during harsh winter weather.
- Keep bedding clean, dry and fluffed. Animals should have an ample amount of bedding to prevent cold stress situations.
- Close up drafty shelters or provide a place for animals to escape the wind.
- Have a talk with your nutritionist. It may be necessary to provide extra feed and energy to animals experiencing long stretches of colder weather.
Take Care of Yourself
Just as winter can be a difficult season for animals, it can also be a more challenging season for you. Take an inventory of your winter clothing supplies to make sure you have enough warm clothes on hand.
When working outdoors, don’t forget to come in and warm up occasionally. Hypothermia can be a life-threatening condition. Here are some symptoms you should watch for according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Slurred speech or mumbling
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination
- Drowsiness or very low energy
- Confusion or memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
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