One of the big problems with snow is that it gets into places where rain doesn’t.
This is because snowflakes tend to fall at an angle and can oscillate into buildings through air vents and openings in the side of buildings.
During the last severe snow events in 2018 and 2019, many farms experienced problems with bedding in calf sheds getting saturated by snow.
Be prepared to have to clean out bedding after the snow has stopped falling.
The last thing you want is young calves lying on wet beds.
If the openings in sheds can be closed off now, well and good.
Where animals are out-wintered on rape or kale, they should not be fed frozen crops, as they can be toxic
Another thing to be very mindful of is snow lodging on the roof of vulnerable buildings.
This adds many tonnes of weight to a roof. In 2018, many vulnerable buildings collapsed.
Remove animals and valuables from old or vulnerable buildings before it snows.
Milking cows will obviously need access to fresh water daily.
If water is limited because pipes or troughs are frozen, you will need to draw water to them.
Reduce their demand for water by cutting back on high-dry matter feeds, such as meal and dry silage.
Where snow has fallen, grazing will be next to impossible.
Where animals are out-wintered on rape or kale, they should not be fed frozen crops, as they can be toxic.
Make sure pumps are drained at the base, or are well insulated, to prevent impellers getting damaged
If there’s no thaw, silage or hay will have to be fed instead of the crop.
If root crops are covered in snow, then other feeds will have to be provided.
Keeping milking parlours from freezing will be a challenge.
Modern machines are good at self-draining, but problems can still occur.
Close the doors
Keep all doors closed. Some farmers will stack straw bales in front of openings to keep out snow and insulate from frost.
Giving a final rinse of salt and water seems to work well for some. The rate is 2.5% salt, so 0.5kg in 20l of water.
Put the salt water through after the final rinse. Suck enough water to line the internal surfaces and then drain the plant fully.
Make sure pumps are drained at the base, or are well insulated, to prevent impellers getting damaged.
Make sure all clusters are left hanging down to prevent water from lodging in and freezing on pipes.
Temporary shelter belts can be formed by stacking round bales of silage or parking trailers in front of buildings or in exposed parts of the yard
Where there are heavy snow drifts accumulating in farmyards, be strategic about what sections to clear.
Clearing and salting these sections at regular intervals will be more time efficient than clearing a lot of snow once or twice a day.
Temporary shelter belts can be formed by stacking round bales of silage or parking trailers in front of buildings or in exposed parts of the yard to take the brunt of the drift.
All of these tasks will swallow up extra time at an already fierce busy time.
On farms affected by snow and frost, milking once a day during the worst of the weather is a sensible option.