While parts of the Midwest have already been introduced to Old Man Winter, it is still autumn, and there is still time to get livestock buildings ready for more inclement weather.
Shawn Shouse, Extension ag engineer with Iowa State University, says when it comes to winterization, livestock producers should focus on three things: water, heat and snow.
“If you have any exposed water pipes or hoses you used for the summer, you need to think about putting those away or protecting them,” he says. “Check the entire water system to make sure it’s ready.”
Shouse says many producers will use heat tape to protect pipes. He cautions against overlapping tape because the extra heat could start a fire.
“It’s very effective, but you have to use it properly,” he says. “Some use too much tape and add it around the end of the pipe, and that could cause a problem.”
Shouse says all types of heating systems should be checked. Supplemental heat is usually not used in cattle buildings, but air needs to be kept moving through the structure to reduce humidity.
Curtains should be checked for holes and to make sure they are functioning properly. Ventilation fans should also be cleaned and maintained.
Shouse says snow removal plans should be finalized in the fall. Even making sure shovels and scrapers are available can save time when the weather turns cold and snowy.
Snow fence should also be placed where it can help keep driveways clear, he adds.
And backup generators should be checked.
“You want to make sure that generator is working when power is lost due to ice,” Shouse says.
Winterization in hog buildings is much the same, says Brett Ramirez, Iowa State Extension ag engineer. He says heaters should be checked, as well as the propane system. Soffets should be cleaned for optimal ventilation.
Curtains should overlap at the top by 3 to 4 inches, Ramirez says. Pit fans should be checked, and pump-out covers should be reattached after pits are emptied.
“Make sure you verify all your vent settings,” he says.
Frozen water lines are rare in hog buildings, but Ramirez says waterers should be checked to make sure they are operating correctly.
“You really want to make sure air flow is good in the building, regardless of the ventilation system,” he says. “You want to keep it safe for the animals and the people working inside.”