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winter "accommodations"

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angus9259

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Another winter in Michigan. Mud, lake effect snow, freezing rain, back to mud, lake effect coming again soon.

My cattle have no access to barns, shelter or bedding. It's rolling hills and they have some trees but they got what they got.

How common is that for you all in Northern climates?
 

Aaron

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Same as Steve. Wind is the worst enemy. Cows can handle freezing rain, snow and cold temps. But wind is a killer.

Bedding is in the form of bales they won't eat or what they leave behind.

If your having mud issues, I would suggest giving them a much bigger area. Around here, if it's muddy or in the spring thaw, I don't keep cows in close quarters. They get as big an area as they need to keep clean. A dirty hide doesn't insulate anything.
 

Cucumber35

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I've been asking myself the same questions. I got a tough old group of girls for sure, and I know we don't get near as cold as a lot of you. But I always feel like I should provide better 'accommodations' as well when the weather is bad. I did put out a bale of straw for bedding the last cold snap, which they seemed to appreciate. We've lost some trees and I feel like they just can't get out of the wind enough the way the terrain is. The best spots to get out of the wind also get the muddiest. I've thought about building a lean-to off the back of our shop for them, would serve as shade in summer which is also lacking. Not crazy about having to use more bedding and hauling shiyt though. However it would probably cut down on how bad they tear up the pasture.
 
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angus9259

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Aaron":3khtpmxe said:
Same as Steve. Wind is the worst enemy. Cows can handle freezing rain, snow and cold temps. But wind is a killer.

Bedding is in the form of bales they won't eat or what they leave behind.

If your having mud issues, I would suggest giving them a much bigger area. Around here, if it's muddy or in the spring thaw, I don't keep cows in close quarters. They get as big an area as they need to keep clean. A dirty hide doesn't insulate anything.

Yeah they have a large area - the mud is usually around the feeders, mineral tubs, waterers, etc and I move the feeders with each bale. But it's heavy clay so keeping them clean and dry is a challenge no matter how much ground you give em.
 

ClinchValley

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This has been on my mind lately. It went from bone dry to wetter than you know. I feed atop a hill and the hilltop has gone to shot. I move the feeders but find feeding on a hillside a disaster waiting to happen. Slick mud and whatnot.

Been rolling hay down the hill the past week and it might be helping.

A sidenote/question. Ancient peoples would cover in mud and it would protect their skin to a degree. Would it not have an insulating effect if it were able to dry? Might be a dumb question.
 
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angus9259

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ClinchValley":1xdyma4v said:
A sidenote/question. Ancient peoples would cover in mud and it would protect their skin to a degree. Would it not have an insulating effect if it were able to dry? Might be a dumb question.

Mud might work for heat and insects but has the opposite effect for cold and rain.
 

skyhightree1

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Majority of my cows have shelters they can go in when it snows I open them up for them.. They don't appreciate them until its snowing... I make run in sheds for folks here so I throw up sheds all over and they have places they can go.. The bad if it wet creates a terrible mess... I generally try to put #3 rock down in these places. I had a calf get stuck in the mud and I got him out he died later. I don't get the snow most of yall get but I do like them having shelters.
 

Nesikep

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My cows are horribly treated, they get nothing, though if it's cold it's usually dry and we don't have prairie winds. Keep the belly full and they do just fine
 

slick4591

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angus9259":1qsvvie0 said:
I can't see how putting up shelters for cows will ever pencil.

Pretty sure they have been telling you that you will save by not having the dead loss. That will never pencil out.
 
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angus9259

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We're getting 30 mph winds now off lake michigan which always dumps the snow. It was raining a couple days ago 50 degrees two days ago so all the snow was gone but the mud was over my boots in places. Then it froze. I was hoping it would stay froze but the last few days have been warmer so it all melted again. Now it's snowing and supposed to be good and freezing cold tomorrow which normally would take care of the mud, but the snow ironically insulates the ground so no matter how cold it gets, the mud will never freeze. A week ago we had 16" of snow on top of 16" of mud. The cattle can all get to some stable ground but the tractor's gonna rip they living shyt of out things taking hay out. If I had shelters they would become maintenance nightmares with the mud and wallowing though too. Now they get to where they won't come up for water because they take to drinking up all the muddy hoof holes out there. Gives the calves coccidiosis. Who knows. See who's alive tomorrow....
 
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angus9259

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They all get real good 2nd or 3rd cut soft high protein grass hay right now. I figure what goes in their belly is the only thing I can control.
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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We use windbreaks on our farms. In most cases, they are permanent structures made from rail road ties and tin. They are then bedded down with cornstalks right after a heavy snow or if it is getting super cold and windy out. Most of the time, we can get by with bedding once a week. We build up a pack by repeatedly bedding in the same spot. This keeps the mud a bay and conserves the bedding. For us, it is cheap insurance againt frozen teats, feet or testicles.
 

Dave

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I don't get much snow but I do have 36 degrees and rain for months on end. I have over 100 feet of straight feed bunk. There is a roof over all but 12 feet of it. The roof extends out 12 feet on the cows side and it is concrete out to about 24 feet. There is also a 20 by 24 two sided shelter along with a 17 by 20 and a 12 by 20 that are just roofs. I bed those areas once a week with sorry late cut canary grass that the cows won't eat. I just keep adding bedding once a week and make a bedding pack that I clean out in the spring after the cows go to grass. This is all built at the edge of a change in soil type. My side is very gravelly sandy loam. The tractor doesn't sink at all. The cows side is a silt loam that absolutely turns to deep mud this time of the year. Since I shipped the heifers a month ago there are only 3 cows out there. I shut the gate confining them to the sheltered area.
 

TCRanch

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ClinchValley":njcea136 said:
Anyone want to throw up a pic or two of a shelter they built or have?

I'll try to remember to take a pic of one we had built a year or so ago. It's made of giant cement blocks that stack together so it's technically not considered a permanent structure (for tax purposes). All they did was dig/cement a base, stack the cement blocks & secure the roof. Keeps cool in the summer & warm in the winter when we throw down some straw.

Does it pencil in? Probably not. But at least they do have shelter because there are very few trees in that pasture.

The cows in the central pasture have the option of going to the barn, down in the draw or seeking shelter in the woods where there are lots of cedar trees. The west 80 just has a lot of woods but we provide straw bales for bedding & old shyt bales for wind protection.
 

wbvs58

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That looks good TC, do they use it a lot. It could easily be adapted for storing cottonseed when it is cheaper or as a silage bunk. I have been thinking of building something like that for awhile for that sort of storage, you have rekindled my idea but have got a lot of other projects on the go to get through first.

Ken
 

garyws

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With all the talk about Winter care of our cattle, it seems to me that if we consider our investment in them is significant, that we should treat them as "pets." Most of us would never leave our dog or cat out in weather that we know is beyond their capability of sustaining a healthy existence. If you want to achieve the best from your animals, give them the best of care.
 

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