From dangerous weather to scant daylight, winter brings a host of complications to your farming operation. To keep your animals amply fed and your costs under control, you must develop strategies to minimize the inevitable inefficiencies brought on by ice, snow and darkness. Here are four ways to streamline your winter feeding routine despite the elements.
Shorten travelling distances. When your workers have less distance to travel from storage to feeder, you cut labour hours, fuel consumption and vehicle wear and tear. These savings can be significant when weather conditions grow difficult and cause more lag. Keep feeders as near as you can to the storage location.
Reduce mud. Mud generation from animal traffic is more than messy; it can be hazardous for the animals and your workers. A decentralized feeding system can spread mealtime traffic around rather than concentrating the tramping to one location.
Minimize feed waste. The key to reducing waste is to minimize the steps between feed storage and the animals. If the feeding space is close to the storage space, you can prevent feed loss in transit and have the animals move to the food rather than vice versa.
Repurpose existing structures. Evaluate your farm’s infrastructure and identify buildings that might be better used as feeding stations. With some minor adaptations, you may be able to create a weather-safe feeding station that doubles as a storage facility.
Implement fenceline feeding cubbies. Consider incorporating a series of fenceline feeders along a roadside where workers have quick access, and the feeding gets spread over a larger area. Feeders should be placed on a concrete pad, about 15 centimetres off the ground or above the platform the animals stand on to feed. Adding a cover to the feeders can safeguard against rain and snow.
Keep these considerations in mind as you develop your winter feeding strategy to trim feed waste and transport time while minimizing the dangers to your livestock and workforce.
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