Farming in winter brings a new set of problems and challenges. While they won’t be applicable to every farming operation, here are 10 things to do around your farm this winter.
1. Start checking weather reports for “sheep weather alerts.” Sudden cold spells can cause hypothermia in sheep, especially when they have been recently shorn.
2. Check gutters and in-flows to farm tanks to ensure they are free of blockages e.g. autumn leaves so that water collection won’t be restricted over the wetter months.
3. Sow forage crops e.g. feed oats or vetch for spring or early summer feed. This can also be the first step to re-establishing permanent pasture species.
4. Restrain fences and end assemblies while soil is moist, and the job is easier to do.
5. Take note of where water is pooling and any poor drainage so that irrigation pipes can be installed to prevent future flooding.
6. Feed lactating ewes well. Separate ewes with twins to ensure they get extra feed.
7. Start crutching sheep during August and into September and take measures to prevent flystrike.
8. If necessary, treat sheep for lice.
Lice irritate sheep and cause them to bite, scratch or rub on trees and fences for relief. This causes fibre breakage and damages the fleece – amongst other repercussions. They can also be present in cattle.
9. Plant revegetation seedlings into weed-free rip lines. Tree guards can be used to protect the seedlings from rabbits and wind.
Planting native trees and shrubs also helps improve the value of rural properties.
10. As crops start to emerge, take care with spraying.
BCG’s article on efficient and effective spraying is worth a read and is a good reminder that “spray drift incidences are becoming more prevalent and can have significant damage on crops as well as reputational risks to the industry.”