Winter brings a whole new set of things to do when it comes to raising cattle.
Step 1 – Food. The grass goes from green to yellow/brown. While the grass is still forage, it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients required for cows to maintain their health. We ordered a few squeezes of hay that we put out for them, and also put protein and salt blocks throughout our property to supplement the grass that is still relatively thick on our spread.
Step 2 – Water. We have a lake, a couple of ponds, springs, and a creek on our property. All will freeze. We put tires in some of the ponds. They will retain and emanate heat and make the ice easier to break for the cows. We also had some long black pipes from the previous owners that we stretched into the lake, which should help as well. We were a little surprised by the lack of off grid options we had to keep the lake from freezing or keeping water in liquid state. So far so good, cows seem to be doing great.
Step 3 – Shelter. There is a lot of natural shelter on the ranch already, be it from trees or topography, but we are constructing a barn with a large overhang that should help.
In short, ranching brings a brand new set of problems to solve on a daily basis. Most of the people you get on the phone (extension offices etc.) are very helpful, but ranching is different from many fields because the experts don’t have a big online presence. For example, you can use youtube to fix just about any part on any car that has ever existed, but not the case with cattle. It is still word-of-mouth, and that has been a different experience for us.