I know I am a little late posting this winter storm checklist after what we experienced here in Texas in 2021, but it never hurts to be archived for future winter events. As they say, “Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best”
In this blog, I will list some key issues that need to be considered and give suggestions of how to handle them. However, every operation has their own nuances that special plans need to be made for.
Water is the lifeblood of every livestock operation. Without water, the livestock can only last a couple of days. Make a plan of how you are going to keep water available, be it tanks, ponds or creeks. Are you going to use tank heaters, and if so are they powered by electric or propane? Are you going to use axes and shovels each day to open the ice? A constant flow of fresh flowing water can make all these plans much easier to implement. Also, DRAIN ALL YOUR HOSES AND UNHOOK HOSES FROM HYDRANTS!
Get your feed early. As soon as you see a bad forecast, stock up on all your feed stuffs. Also, plan at least a week out after the storm event is expected to end. Even when the storm is over, your feed suppliers may experience delays receiving new inventory.
Animals can handle cold temperatures, but combined with winds, cold temperatures can become deadly. Make sure your livestock either have barns they can retreat to, or a windbreak that they can get behind. These can be made from tarps, hay bales, trees, or even trailers as in our recent event. Your coldest temps and winds will come from the north or northwest - position your windbreaks accordingly.
An auxiliary power source on standby is always a good plan. These can be used for heaters, lights, or power for your wells. Test your generators both when you enter the winter months, and again before the storm arrives. Make sure you fill all your gas/diesel cans ahead of the storm. Purchase your anti-gelling additives beforehand, because they will sell out quickly in stores. Fill all your propane bottles, in case you need a heat source that does not require electricity.
Things break in ice and cold, so make sure to have extra parts for your tanks, pipes and hydrants, and even your equipment. You may want to have extra extension cords and garden hoses.
Winter weather can be extra troublesome if you are calving or breeding. If you are calving when extreme cold hits, make sure you have spaces where you can allow animals to calve in shelter, or if that isn’t possible, a place newborns can be taken to warm and dried before uniting with its mama.
When breeding and a winter storm hits, I would like to say that I have advice to make it successful, but the hard truth is you will have a negative impact. Conception rates will be reduced, animals may not show heats, or you may just have to abort plans to breed and try a couple weeks later.
Recently, WFAA did a story covering the farmers’ experience of the past winter storm which ZNT got the pleasure to be a part of.
Below is the video that aired on 2/18/21
We hope these suggestions will help you and your operation in the future. After all, being prepared can save you a whole lot of time, money, and energy during these extreme circumstances!
If you have any questions about weather preparedness, please contact Zane Mai at either 817-233-9357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.