Thursday, November 20, 2014

Preparing the Homestead Animals for Winter

Temperatures here last week were frigid.  With overnight lows in the single digits, and daytime highs never rising above freezing, winter temperatures came quickly!

The freezing weather and the snow that fell this morning helped me to clearly see where we had been prepared and what areas we lacked on when it came to winter prep.  If nothing else, hopefully this series of posts will serve as a checklist to me next winter to help me remember all the little things that need done!

For this first part, I'll focus on the animals we have on the farm.

Cows:

The cows need bedding.  Thankfully they are perfectly content to lay on grass hay and munch away at it.  Straw is my preferred bedding choice, but I haven't found it available yet at a price that isn't crazy.  Grass hay (we were blessed with almost 50 bales for free) is working for now...

Water is also a concern.  The cows now have defrosters in both of their water tanks.  This happened after one already froze, unfortunately.  Next year I need to be more proactive!

The electric defroster makes watering so much nicer!




Rabbits:

Just a little extra bedding helps to ensure these little ones stay warm.  I also have switched all of them to crock type waterers instead of bottles (the nipple froze too easily before) and now just use hot water to defrost them twice a day.

Since we are expecting babies in December, all of the rabbits are staying in their nice warm hutches.  Harder to clean, but definitely warm!

Chickens:

I'm back to buying layer rations after a summer of complete free-ranging.  The birds seem to appreciate not having to hunt around as much for food, though they still hang out most of the day in the barn.  A molt is keeping my egg count at almost zero right now--but thankfully my younger flock should start laying next month.  Right about the time the other ones are over their molt!

Turkeys:

These guys are still small, but are getting butchered on Saturday.  It'll be my first experience ever butchering without the use of the county poultry processing unit and plucker.  That means I'll have to pluck by hand. Or maybe we'll trying waxing or skinning....not quite sure yet! I'll be sure to let you know how this goes!

And that wraps up the animal winter prep!

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