Be sure your farm is winter storm ready

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by Paula Burke

After the ten inches of snow that fell on most of Carroll County on December 8, 2017, it is wise to remember that snow does fall in Georgia and sometimes we can get a lot of it. The heavy wet snow caused problems for numerous farmers in the area. A few commercial poultry producers had chicken house roof’s collapse and created an unsafe and deadly environment for their chickens. Others had roofs collapse on hay and equipment storage. Lesser issues were power outages leading to difficulties watering animals and trees down on fences. No matter how large or small the problem, it creates a difficult time for all involved.

To ensure you are ready for the next winter storm, I encourage you to take action on these suggestions:

Don’t have a generator? Get one. You never know how long you will be without power. Having power is important to keep water flowing to your animals, keeping your freezer full of meat and other food frozen, running the battery charger so you can get your truck or tractor started. If you do not have a generator, at the first mention of a storm, run water in buckets, fill the water trough, full your bathtub so you will not be without water.

Winterize all of your equipment, pipes, and hoses in the fall. Cold temperatures will cause problems and split pipes and hoses that are full of water. Be sure to drain all of the water out and sprayer tanks and its hoses. You do not want to have to replace those come spring.

Have a snow shovel. Sometimes hard to find living in the south, but if it remains cold, the fallen snow may not melt away fast and you may need to shovel paths, clean off steps, or your roof. Keep the areas you walk on safe to avoid slipping and breaking a hip.

Have an alternative heat source in case you lose power. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, you are all set. But do you have enough firewood to even burn? Be careful running kerosene heaters. Be sure to keep anything flammable at a good distance and be careful about carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have heat lamps in the barn for newborn babies, be sure they are mounted properly and cannot cause a fire in your barn.

Pay extra attention to your animals during a storm. For livestock, be sure they have plenty of good quality hay. When the temperature goes down, livestock have an increase need of good nutrition as they are trying to keep themselves warm. Check for newborn babies and be sure they are nursing. Bring the newborns and mama inside the barn if you need to. Be sure they have plenty of water and it is not frozen over.

Hopefully by keeping a few of these suggestions in mind, you farm will be more prepared for what old man winter brings you in 2018. For more information, contact me at the UGA Extension office at 900 Newnan Road in Carrollton, pjburke@uga.edu, 770-836-8546.