Winter Livestock Care

As the calendar pages flip from the exciting month of Christmas parties, gift wrapping, gift exchanges and all the other extras that December brings, farmers face the cold winter months of January and February. With the colder temps and the chances of snow, ice and bitter temperatures, most hobby farmers face a new set of challenges.

Hobby farming can mean most mornings you are up at daylight, but for a few winter months it may mean starting your morning and even evening feedings before it is daylight. Feeding in the dark can be a struggle. I highly recommend that you have a good flashlight to carry during those times that a trip to the barn can be a struggle due to the changing of daylight. Whether you could encounter a wild animal on your trip there or mice in the barn, a light is needed.

Preventing hypothermia is another step that farmers must take in the winter for themselves. A trip to the barn could be a life or death situation in the winter when accidentally slipping on ice and taking a fall. If injured, the situation could become dangerous quickly with the temperatures that many face in the winter months. A good pair of coveralls and a warm jacket as well as some heavy gloves are must haves during the next few months. Yes, they can feel cumbersome and hard to deal with, but protecting yourself is most important. Also, be fully aware of your feet with heavy thermal socks and great boots. Expense can be overlooked when it comes to being dressed for the weather.

Animals on the hobby farm can face new problems as well, so be winter aware of their needs as well. Depending on the animal, they may do fine, but some might need some extra care. You always want to make sure they have a warm and dry place to get into if they begin to feel the cold in the air as well.

If you happen to have horses on your farm, it is important to be aware that horses can sometimes be difficult to keep weight on in the winter. If you find that your loving companion is losing weight, there are a few things that you can remember to do that may help. A horse needs hay to graze on all winter. They get nutrition from it but they also get their "heat" from the hay. Also, adding some corn oil to their feed can help a horse to maintain weight throughout the winter months as well.

Keeping cows out of the bitter winds is the most important key to their winter care. I also believe that providing them a good barley or wheat straw will aid in the keeping warm process as well. Mature cattle are very sustainable in winter weather, but smaller cattle can be susceptible to the colder temperatures. I believe that grass hay is also some of the best feed for cattle even in the winter. Cattle that feed normally off of the grass in their pasture will need extra hay for the winter as the grass simply does not have the nutrients that they need.

I highly recommend that if you are new to the hobby farming life that you read as much as you can on the winter care of your animal/s before winter hits and be well prepared.


  1. You certainly have your hands full taking care of a hobby farm in the winter months, Carol! I always thought it would be lovely to live on a farm, but it's also a ton of work!

  2. It’s a lot of work! Fortunately for us, we just get to enjoy the ranch when we are here since Dean and Sherry do all the work! We have the best of both worlds! We do Critter Chores from time to time when they are away and it can be tough for two old people if it’s wet and muddy and cold OR if it’s humid and boiling hot! Still, it’s an adventure!
    You guys work hard!

  3. Carol, a belated thanks for coming to Marmelade Gypsy and leaving me such a nice comment a week or two ago. I'm so far behind but your words mean a lot.

    And this city girl found this post fascinating!

  4. I remember as a child growing up on the farm with lots of animals. We don't have any now but I know there is a lot of work involved. Have a blessed day and New Year ahead! HUGS!

  5. It can be a lot of work and not fun work at times, but I would not trade it for city living these days.


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