Winter. We are in the thick of winter. It is cold, windy, wet, and really no fun is being had on the farm, unless you are the bull. Despite all the negatives, we are very fortunate in North Carolina because generally we do not see harsh winters like other states do. It may get down in the teens or single digits once in a while but for the most part we are above freezing and I can live with that.
During the winter, our cows are nursing calves and breeding is taking place. Each day, we check on everyone to make sure all is well and we provide hay (as much as they want to eat) and supplement with protein and energy (tubs and grain). The cows have access to clean drinking water at all times (hooray for our new automatic drinkers) and loose minerals. As previously mentioned, we are unrolling hay this winter for the first time (we normally use hay rings) and I am just so happy with the results so far. Not only does it allow the cows to spread out and distribute nutrients but it gives a warm, dry place for the calves to bed down when it is really cold. I feel like it has made all the difference on our farm this winter when it comes to cattle comfort. The cows seems happier because they are not huddled around a hay ring, fighting for the best spot, and in knee deep cold mud.
Our cow herd also has access to wind break areas (trees) and plenty of space to move about if they want. It is really important for them to have somewhere to go when the weather turns nasty (wind, snow, sleet, rain). They burn a lot of energy in the winter so it is crucial to keep hay out at all times and supplement as needed.
Hurry up March! We are ready to get back to grazing and wearing t-shirts around here.