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Get Your Farm Ready for Winter’s Worst

The care and feeding of livestock is critical, and challenging, during winter. Make sure you and your equipment are ready.

Most of us have had our first taste of winter — some of us already have had a bellyful. Regardless, we know there are likely more, bigger bites to come. Is your farm ready for whatever blows in this winter?

Snow, ice and life-threatening wind chills each pose unique, dangerous challenges on the farm, let alone when they conspire to hit us with a double- or triple-whammy. Aside from the obvious food and shelter needs, power and electricity are especially critical to surviving winter’s worst.

Keep the juice flowing. Standby generators are a must for livestock operations that rely on a constant, dependable electric supply for ventilation, automated feeding equipment and milk coolers. But they offer more than convenience on farms without livestock, too. Generators can provide the power that keeps pipes from freezing and shops and farm-office space humming. Losses in productivity and expenses incurred during a long-term power outage easily can offset a generator’s cost. Here are a few factors to consider if you’ve decided to purchase a generator for your farm (and the time to buy is now, rather than when an impending weather event saps inventories):

  • Choose from engine- or tractor-powered options.
  • Plan your system: What do you want to power? How much power is required? This guide from Virginia Cooperative Extension is an excellent resource.
  • Learn how to operate and maintain your generator.

Surge protection. Where above-ground power lines are the norm, electricity loss usually doesn’t happen instantly. Ice-coated, wind-whipped power lines slapping against trees and each other frequently create power surges. These surges pose serious threats to computers, data backup drives, satellite and phone lines and high-value electronics. Although a surge-protecting power strip provides protection, it’s far from complete, considering the loss potential. Optimum surge protection provides three levels of protection:

  1. At the device with a surge-protecting power strip
  2. At the electric service panel where electricity enters the house, shed or shop
  3. At the electric meter between the utility pole and where electricity enters the service panel

Whole-house or whole-building surge protection is relatively new, but it can provide peace of mind and prevent high-dollar losses whether the storm strikes during the winter or summer.

Livestock care. If you raise livestock, you likely ensure you’ve adequately cared for your animals before worrying about your own needs. South Dakota State University Extension offers several tips to help ready your livestock operation for winter weather. Although these are specifically aimed at dairy producers, most can find application on all types of farms.

Keeping farm equipment, such as tractors, semis, skid loaders, pay loaders, feed mixing wagons, manure pumps, etc., operating and reliable is especially challenging during winter. Check batteries and fuel filters as these items routinely fail in cold weather. If, during your equipment checks, you determine batteries, filters, belts, hoses or any other parts need replacement, remember: Your Case IH dealer is your No. 1 source for all types of parts and service. Access to driveways, roads and other farm or building sites where you may need to check on livestock or equipment is critical during extreme conditions. Again, turn to your Case IH dealer for the latest, most efficient snow removal equipment.

Winter on the farm is tough and can be extremely dangerous. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Instead, take preparedness steps and be ready to weather the most challenging conditions.

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