Help your livestock stay comfortable inside from harsh weather outside by winterizing your barn. A preparedness checklist to create a weathertight shelter should include…
1. General Maintenance
Fix holes, repair loose rafters, make sure the doors are working properly, bolt down loose tin, and repair anything that needs it. In general, make sure the structure is in good working order.
Clean up outside the barn, as well. Level any mud near doors and gates that might freeze and prevent them from opening. Pick up around the barnyard so when you are operating a snowblower or other equipment, you won’t hit debris hidden under a snowdrift.
Most livestock, such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep, can tolerate the cold as long as they are kept dry and protected from freezing rain, ice, and snow. But fragile animals such as chickens and young pigs need consistent warmth.
One solution is to install a thermostat-controlled heating system. If you don’t want to heat the entire barn, create heat zones with safely-situated heat lamps, space heaters, or heated mats.
Proper ventilation is critical, particularly in extreme cold where you need to close up the barn to preserve heat. If you button up the barn too tight, moisture may build up and create high humidity.
Too much humidity in the barn allows bacteria to thrive, gives disease the opportunity to spread, and can cause respiratory problems for your livestock. The challenge is to conserve heat while moving enough air through the barn to push out humidity, so before bitter temperatures set in, check and clean air distribution systems and fans to make sure they are functioning.
Adding a bit of insulation up under the barn’s roof will help reduce condensation that can form when the roof gets cold, which in turn, helps reduce humidity levels.
4. Water Supply
Animals need constant access to water, even during cold weather, so check all pipes and hoses. Water should flow freely, even in freezing conditions, so use insulation or heat tape on pipes to help prevent freezing.
Insulated troughs and fountains hold heat very well, while submersible heaters – both electric and gas-fired – also prevent water from freezing.