Dairy Adventure: Fair Oaks Farms (photo journal)

I recently had the opportunity to visit Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. Fair Oaks Farm specializes in transparency and is an agrotourism venue highlighting dairy cows and swine. As a guest to Fair Oaks Farms you can choose to do just one adventure or both – this was the option I chose.

Below is a photo diary of my dairy adventure. ** Please note: I am not paid to endorse or promote Fair Oaks Farms, this is just my opinion and experience.

Fair Oaks Farm-final
The entry way into Fair Oaks.
FOF-final
On the day of my visit there were also several schools visiting. I was a little apprehensive at how busy/noisy it would be. To my relief lines moved quickly and there was plenty of room for all of us.

As soon as I got to Fair Oaks I purchased my tickets for both the dairy and swine adventures. I had a little time to kill before my bus was to depart to go to the dairy facility, which for biosecurity reasons is separate from the main Fair Oaks facility. I spent some time looking around some of the educational displays while I waited…

Educational cow-final
There were several cows that had fun facts. It asked the question, when you lifted up the flap it gave you the answer. Great for kids to check out while they waited.
feedstuff collage-final
There were several displays set-up that discussed what the cows ate and how much they eat.
Rumen-final
There was also an interesting video talking about the four compartments of the stomach! The video followed a couple of people through the various parts of the stomach (shown) as well into the mammary glands, talking about the function and sharing some fun facts.

It was time to load the bus and head to the dairy facility…

barn tour - final
We did a drive by viewing of the calves in hutches and the cows in the free-stall barns (hence the blurriness).
cow milking - final
The tour then went into the milking parlor. This is the first time I have ever seen a carousel milker. We were standing at 6 o’clock, the cows enter at 11 o’clock. By the time it makes one rotation the cows have been milked and will exit. The cows put themselves on it and backed themselves off of it, it was very cool. Notice the cow art on the wall? πŸ™‚
cow milker- final
I was surprised at how calm and relaxed the cows were, some were even chewing their cud.
milk tank-final
The pipes carrying the milk ran by our observation room, one pipe was warm (coming from the cows) and the other was cool (getting ready to be put in the tank). All of the milking equipment, pipes, tanks, etc. are cleaned every 24 hours.

When I bought my dairy adventure ticket they told me to keep an eye on the stoplight outside of the dairy barn. If the light was red nothing was happening, if it was yellow feet were out, if it was green there was a delivery in process…

dairy barn 2-final
The light was green… A calf is being born in the barn!
calving-final
A cow had just had a calf, another was in the process of calving. While I have seen hundreds of animals born in my life, it is still awesome to watch the miracle of life. An employee was close at hand to make sure the delivery went well and to assist the calf if needed. All mothers and their babies were doing well.
Nursery-final
The calf nursery.

It was time to grab some lunch after the dairy adventure. So I headed to the COWfe!

food-final
I had a grilled cheese and ham sandwich (it was awesome!) and a scoop of strawberry ice cream. Both were amazing.
FOF-final
Some things I also saw on my dairy adventure were a milk carton climbing wall, which not open on that particular day. A bouncy pod behind the dairy building, the kids who were bouncing were loving it. There was also a Fair Oaks Farms gas station next to the facility.

My dairy adventure at Fair Oaks Farms was great. Even though I was traveling alone on this day there was so much to do and see it kept me fully entertained. I would definitely recommend this stop to anyone – whether you have an ag background (like me) or if you have never been to a dairy before. Stay tuned, I will soon blog about my swine adventure.

——————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Advertisements

Avian Influenza: Guidelines for Backyard Poultry Flocks

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture recently decided to cancel all poultry shows, sales, and swap-meets as a proactive measure designed to increase biosecurity and decrease the potential spread of Avian Influenza.

This article (written by myself and Dr. Sheila Purdum, UNL Poultry Specialist) will provide information about Avian Influenza and suggest recommendations for small or backyard flock owners. Avian Influenza can affect all birds, regardless of housing arrangement or size of flock.

What birds can be infected? The AI virus will infect: chickens, turkeys, quail, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and a wide variety of other birds.

Avian Influenza Symptoms: Lethargic (tired) or listless, depression, decreased egg production, coughing, sneezing, wet eyes, huddling, ruffled feathers, decreased food and/or water consumption, or a high temperature/fever. In three to five days there may be an 80-90% mortality rate. In your flock, if mortality increases, contact your local veterinarian immediately so they can help you get viable swabs to a lab as soon as possible.

Understanding Influenza: Cases of AI started popping up on the West Coast in December 2014 and have since moved east. The influenza virus is not new or uncommon. People get seasonal influenza (Types A and B) and swine get influenza (Type A). Most currently, we are familiar with Avian Influenza (Type A) which affects all types of birds. Within each type there are various H (16) and N (9) types, hence why you may see the viruses reported as H5N2. Additionally, viruses get together and exchange genetic material, re-sorting and mutating – making it challenging to effectively treat a virus.

Avian Influenza can either be referred to as Highly Pathogenic (HP) or Low Pathogenic (LP). High pathogenic indicates it is a severe and highly infectious disease – to cause an outbreak, only the amount of virus that will fit on the head of a pin is needed. With HP, there may be an 80-95% mortality rate in as little as five days. The HP is usually types H5 or H7. Low pathogenic on the other hand is a mild disease, with a low mortality rate usually caused from a secondary bacterial infection. The LP types are H1, H3, H5, H7, or H9.

Highly Pathogenic flocks DO NOT enter the food supply. They are humanely euthanized and properly disposed of by composting or burial.

Sources of infection and spread: Wild migratory water fowl are the natural host, which means they can become infected but they do not generally get sick and/or die from the infection. However, they will spread it to other healthy hosts (i.e. birds), making them sick or resulting in death. The wild migratory water fowl will shed large amounts of virus into the environment via ponds, waterways, as well as onto grain fields in the spring or fall when large numbers congregate together. Sparrows act as a bridge between waterways where the virus host birds have been and poultry barns or backyard flocks. Sparrows are attracted to small puddles of water in which they bathe, drink, or look for insects to eat. In addition to infected birds visiting your healthy birds, shared equipment and people are sources of possible contamination. The AI can also be spread via wind – more specifically, dust and feathers may be vectors (although this is not the primary method of how the virus is spread). Nasal secretions may also be a source of contamination.

How long can the virus survive? Survival of the influenza virus depends on the strain. Fortunately, highly pathogenic (HP) strains do not usually survive as long as LP strains.

  • The influenza virus will survive on a clean surface for two days.
  • In fecal material or compost, the virus will survive for about 10 days (very important to know if you are doing dead animal composting).
  • In liquid manure, the influenza virus can survive in winter for 105 days.
  • While feces protect the virus, temperature also has a dramatic effect:
    • If feces are at 40o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive 30-35 days
    • If feces are at 70o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive seven days
    • If feces are at 90o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive four days
    • If the drinking/bathing water is at 66o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive 94-160 days
    • If the drinking/bathing water is at 88o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive 26-30 days

Things that help the virus thrive: Cold or freezing temperatures, fresh or slightly salty water, grain fields or water located in convenient locations, inadequate biosecurity, and possibly strong winds.

Things that hurt the virus: warm weather, dryness/sunshine, salt water, most disinfectants, high level of biosecurity, frozen lakes/rivers, and a surveillance program.

Is there treatment options available for the birds? Currently, there is no immunity in poultry flocks as they are not regularly vaccinated. At this time, vaccinations are only permitted for LP flocks. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and state vets are determining if vaccination can be used as an emergency procedure for HP birds. At this time, vaccine is not available and still under review.

What if I find a dead wild bird at/near my home or an area I visit regularly? To error on the side of caution, it is recommended to call your State Veterinarian (a list of state vets and their contact information can be found at: https://www.avma.org/advocacy/stateandlocal/stateanimalhealthofficials/pages/default.aspx) and arrange to have a sample sent to the National Poultry Disease Lab in Ames, Iowa. Your local veterinarian can assist with getting the sample packaged and sent. Again, it is important to note, if you have wild birds on your property, you should proceed with strict biosecurity protocols for your backyard poultry flock’s health and safety.

What should I use to disinfect shoes/equipment/eggs? A low to mild Clorox solution (three parts bleach to two parts water), soapy sanitizers, or other disinfectants mixed per label instructions.

What happens if I have to depopulate my flock? Thoroughly disinfect everything. Allow the amount of time needed, as provided above, to pass. During this time, review your biosecurity plan and look for areas that could be made stronger. Do you know when and/or how your flock became infected? What will you change as a result?

Risk to humans: The risk of contracting AI is low to negligible in humans. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that to date, there have been no reported illnesses or spread to human hosts. Precautions are recommended for workers depopulating and euthanizing HP flocks in large barns. First signs of symptoms for this potential population is respiratory problems and/or conjunctivitis, anti-viral drugs may be given as a precaution.

Are poultry products still safe to consume? Yes! Avian flu CANNOT be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked poultry meat and/or egg products. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined HP can survive in poultry, but keep in mind, HP flocks do not enter the food supply! If you notice a bird in your backyard flock has come down with the AI symptoms, do not consume that bird! Contact your local veterinarian and dispose of it as directed. Table eggs sold in retail markets are sanitized prior to human consumption. If you are raising/buying eggs that are locally sourced, ensure from the supplier they are being properly sanitized.

What do the next six months look like? The U.S. has the strongest surveillance program in the world. Unfortunately, this is not over yet and the impact on the poultry and egg industry is unknown. The number of cases will hopefully decrease over the summer as temperatures increase. However, the virus outbreaks may increase again in the fall as migratory birds go to fields to forage for grains.

What can I do to protect my flock? Biosecurity = risk management! Put as many procedures in place as possible to prevent the introduction of disease causing organisms into your barns and onto your farm.

  • Increase the level of biosecurity!
  • Bring birds indoors, get them away from open sources of water that other birds are drinking from or defecating in.
  • Provide clean and sanitary water to your birds:
    • If your flock is drinking from standing water sources, those water sources need to be completely blocked off so that small wild birds cannot access the water, thus potentially contaminating your flock.
    • If you are not able to use clean well water, water from other sources will need to be sanitized before it is used or may cause disease outbreak.
    • The AI virus will survive for longer periods of time in silt and mud in cool temperatures at the bottom of ponds (at 63o F, the virus will survive up to 100).
  • Do not allow your birds to graze or be on pastures where wild birds have access.
  • Limit traffic to your flock and your facility. If you are selling eggs or meat, consider meeting customers off your farm to decrease the potential for the AI virus to come to your farm.
  • Only allow authorized personnel to be near your poultry. This may be just immediately family. Do not allow any unnecessary visitors.
  • Determine if your personal biosecurity plan is strict enough. Do you have a sanitizing foot bath? Do you have a vehicle or equipment sanitizing plan?
  • Do you have a plan for people to change clothes before and after working with or near poultry?
  • If traveling out of state or to another poultry facility please use all good biosecurity precautions.
  • New stock should only be introduced from sources you are sure are AI free and not from areas in or near an AI outbreak.
  • If you are selling eggs: thoroughly clean and disinfect each egg prior to giving to the client. Only re-use clean cartons (no debris or dust).
  • If you and/or your family have visited a state park or other common place where water fowl frequent, please use extra precaution on cleaning shoes, vehicles, clothes, or any equipment to ensure you do not infect your flock.

Sources:

Carver, Donna (2015). Presenting avian influenza in backyard poultry flocks. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

Purdum, S. (2015 April). H5N2 Avian Flu. UNL MarketJournal.

USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (2015 June). Avian Influenza Disease.

USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (2015 June). Update on Avian Influenza Findings.

Wojcinski, H. (2015). Avian Influenza: What you need to know. Hybrid Genetics. Recorded presentation.

Aviary Systems (2)_UNL photo-final

——————————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Heat Stress: Something to sweat about

In Eastern Nebraska, our temperatures have jumped the last few days, the nights aren’t cooling down, there is high humidity, and no wind. Unfortunately, this combination can be dangerous for livestock. At UNL, our beef team has been trying to push out resources and information to beef farmers and ranchers to help them prepare for these high heat events.

Last year I did a blog post on heat stress. At the bottom of the post are more resources on how to help dairy animals, feedlot animals, and youth exhibiting at livestock shows. These high heat events are dangerous for both humans and animals.

heat stress

————————–

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Bottle Baby… Throwback Thursday

This little gem is from 1998, I was managing the cattle herd for Redlands Community College where I was also a student. This little guy’s mom didn’t come into her milk after she had him, so I had to supplement him with bottles several times a day until her milk came. As you can see, I had the help of a canine friend too. Β  ———————

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more

Recently, several of my colleagues and I hosted a Sensitive Issues: Media and Communication Training, we worked on developing and improving our communication skills around agriculture and agricultural topics. One of the topics we received more information on was sustainability.

Dr. Jude Capper, a livestock sustainability consultant, was our first speaker. I want to share with some of the messages about sustainability shared by Dr. Capper.

Capper– Sustainability is defined as “able to last or continue for a long time.” Many livestock farmers and ranchers are sustainable – whether they raise 10 head or 1,000 head. If you have never heard of the Century Farms Program, you should check it out. The American Farm Bureau Foundation recognizes farms or ranches by state that have been in a family for 100+ years! That is sustainable.

– There are essentially three things that need to be considered to be sustainable: 1) the economic viability, 2) the environmental response, and 3) the social acceptance. I think you would agree that no matter the type of agriculture system, these are all important to livestock farmers and ranchers.

– Every farmer and rancher can be sustainable! Sustainability is seen in all types of agriculture — conventional, organic, grass-fed, grain-fed, small, and large. Size of the agricultural enterprise is NOT a determinant of sustainability. Sustainability does not just apply to niche agricultural products.

– Animal agriculture’s U.S. carbon footprint is small! According tot he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meat production accounts for 2.1% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

– If everybody in the U.S. went meatless every Monday for an entire year… The National carbon footprint would only decrease by less than 1/3 of 1 percent!

– If animal agriculture did not exist, what would be the carbon cost of sourcing product ingredients that currently come from agricultural byproducts? Think about all of the products we use daily (i.e. cosmetics, gelatin based foods, paints, etc.), medications, and even food for our pets. Animal agriculture helps keep the carbon footprint low!

– Meat and dairy can be replaced with vegetable proteins, but humans produce methane too!

– In 1977, it took five animals to produce the same amount of beef as four animals in 2007. Raising beef has become more efficient.Β 

– In 1977 it took 609 days to get them to a harvest (slaughter) weight, in 2007 it took 485 days.Β  This equates to 3,045 animal days in 1977 and 1,940 animal days in 2007. Raising beef has become more sustainable, and is reducing resources.

– If we converted our current cattle feeding system entirely to a grass-fed system:

– We would need 64.6 million more cattle for a grass-fed system. These cattle average a 615 pound hot carcass weight (the weight after the animal has been harvested, hide, hooves, and intestines/variety meats removed), and it would take approximately 679 days to get them to a desirable harvest (slaughter) weight.

– In comparison, a conventional (or grain-fed beef animal) has an approximate 800 pound hot carcass weight and takes approximately 444 days to get to desirable harvest weight.Β 

*** All cattle farming/ranching systems are needed and valued, whether it is grain-fed, grass-fed, organic, or natural — one is not better than another, they are just different.

– If, the entire beef industry converted entirely to grass-fed beef we would need an additional 131 million acres of land, 468 billion gallons of water, and 131 million tones of carbon!

– Hormones in food are considered unacceptable, but lifestyle hormones are acceptable.

– One 8 ounce steak from a non-implanted beef animal contains 3.5 ng of estrogen, from an implanted beef animal (a beef animal given additional hormones) it is 5.1 ng of estrogen. One birth control pill delivers 35,000 ng of estrogen. In comparison, a woman would have to eat 3,000 pounds of beef daily to get the same amount of hormones through meat that is found in birth control!

– Growth enhancing technologies (i.e. growth hormones) reduce the environmental impact of beef by 10.7%! More specifically, 4.2 tonnes of feed, 1 acre of land, and 22,722 gallons of water per 800 pound carcass and reduced if growth enhancement technologies are used.

– The extra beef produced as a result of using beta-agonists and implants on a single carcass with supply seven children with school lunches for an entire year!

All foods and food systems can be sustainable. Sustainability is best achieved by optimizing efficiency across the entire food and agriculture chain. Technology has allowed beef farmers/ranchers to produce more beef using less resources.

What other questions do you have about sustainability? I have also written about it here.

cow-calf pairs

————————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Trust but Verify…

Please take a moment to read Anne’s post today, and sign up for her blog if you do not yet follow it. Anne is a very well respected cattle feedlot owner and operator, who is very hands-on with all day-to-day activities. Anne spends a lot of time sharing what she does on her feedlot via this blog and through various public venues. Thanks Anne for what you do!

Feed Yard Foodie

I did an interview last week with a reporter who asked, β€œWhy does your farm participate in 3rd party animal welfare audits?”

My answer: I ask that my customers trust me to be a good farmer, but I open my farm to auditing so that they can verify that I practice what I preach.

No matter how good a job you do on your farm, an audit is a stressful time.

  • Hundreds of pages of documents are checked to make sure that records accurately demonstrate daily animal care practices.
  • Hours are spent checking the farm’s facilities (feed and feed mixing areas, cattle pens, water tanks, and corrals) to ensure that animals have good living conditions.
  • Cattle handling is observed to ensure that good welfare exists while animals are interacting with their human caregivers.
  • Caregivers are asked questions about farm protocols on many different issues relative to animal care…

View original post 515 more words

Nothing humane about animal agriculture: Reblog

If you follow my blog you know I talk about animal care in extreme temperatures. If you are new, welcome, and check out posts posts here, here, and here.

Today my friend Trent Loos, shares his thoughts on the humane aspect of animal care in these snowing/windy/freezing/over-all miserable environmental events we are currently experiencing in Nebraska.

If you think livestock farmers/ranchers treat their livestock inhumanely, I encourage you to read this.

—————————–

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Bummer Lamb to Replacement Ewe: Transformation Tuesday

Sometimes for one reason or another a baby animal cannot be raised by its mother. When this happens the livestock farmer or rancher will try to put that lamb on another mother, but if that is not possible, that baby then becomes a “bummer”. A bummer is fed several times a day by the livestock farmer or rancher; it will drink milk replacement via a bottle until it becomes big enough to eat solid foods. Naturally, you hope these bummers will grow and flourish. Usually, they don’t grow as well as their counterparts, they can get pot bellies, and they are generally not retained in the herd/flock as a replacement (if they are female).

Last winter (2013) I posted about my Mom feeding a bummer lamb here. When I was home for Christmas (2014) my Mom pointed out one of her replacement ewes to me. She said that this ewe was the bummer lamb that I wrote about last year. That little lamb had grown up and had become a nice little replacement ewe. Good quality feed and genetics can sure make a difference on a bummer joining the flock!

bummer to ewe - final
A bummer lamb to a replacement ewe: A success story!

—————————————-

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Chipotle: There Is NO Pork Shortage!

I am reblogging this from Wanda at Minnesota Farm Living. Wanda is a pig farmer, and has tremendous experience and expertise when it comes to pigs and the pork industry – so this article is coming from someone who raises our food.

Read this post and the comments to better understand why a large percentage of pigs are raised in barns – then YOU decide if you think there is a problem…

———

Chipotle has declared a pork shortage because their supplier was not compliant with pig housing requirements. Find out why housing pigs indoors is humane.

via Chipotle: There Is NO Pork Shortage!.

California ranchers bracing for Pineapple Express storm

California has spent the last several years in one of the worst droughts in the state’s history. And as if it couldn’t get worse, they are preparing to face one of the worst storms they have had since 1997 – the Pineapple Express. Today I have talked to both of my parents (Northern California area), and have seen several friends that also live in the area posting about the weather conditions on social media. Needless to say the wind is blowing 75 to 100 mph! The dust in the air is terrible and is limiting visibility, and they are preparing for power loss to occur by this evening. Additionally, rain and up to 4 inches of snow an hour may come!

While these conditions are going to be miserable for everyone in the path of this storm, they become more challenging and difficult for livestock ranchers. Ranchers and farmers know that this type of weather can be hard on all animals big and small, but they are preparing as best they can. I want to share with you some of the things my favorite California ranchers are doing to prepare:

– Extra bedding and pens. During a storm like this animals will instinctively huddle together and try to find a place out of the weather. Also, the baby animals will be coming! A change in barometric pressure usually means more baby animals will be born. Shed space can become limited if this storm lasts for several days. But those having offspring will at least be warm and dry.

sheep shed
The sheep shed has plenty of straw and should be warm and dry.

– Grass hay only! Animals can bloat (excessive gas in the rumen) if fed a high quality hay like alfalfa in windy conditions. Bloat, if not caught in time could potentially kill the animal. So to help eliminate this problem, ranchers are stock piling the grass hay as the primary feed, which almost eliminates bloat altogether.

– Water. Luckily our ranch has an artesian well and several creeks/ditches running through it, so most of the livestock will have water despite weather conditions. However, it is very common for the rural areas to loose power with winds like this, and that means no water can be pumped out of the wells. Water may have to be hauled or the animals moved to ensure everyone has access to fresh water during the entire storm.

– Flooding. Since California has been so dry for so long, a large amount of water may runoff the soil instead of be absorbed. One winter during a severe flooding event, we regularly checked ditches and water blockage systems (aka headgates) to ensure they were not blocked with wood, limbs, and other debris. By allowing the water to keep flowing, and not pooling, it helped to eliminate damage to ditches and headgates.

– Structures. This type of wind can be hard on structures, especially old ones and the roofs. Some of our old sheds have tin roofs. In the past, tin has been flopping around and eventually blew off as it is way too dangerous to try and fix it in a high wind event, as someone could easily be decapitated or severely injured. When part of a roof starts to flap around we try to throw tires or other heavy objects on the roof, and hope it makes it through the worst.

– Fires. One winter we lost several sheds and a part of our working corral (livestock handling area) due to an electrical fire. If an extension cord is plugged in for whatever reason, and the power goes it can cause a spark. And with high winds it doesn’t take long before you have a roaring fire on your hands with no ability to pump water. So my Dad has been checking to ensure everything nonessential is unplugged. All of neighbors try to watch out for each other for fires that may also start at feedmills, haystacks, and other structures.

Copy of July_2011_home 012
Fire is a great resource and can be fun, however, it is hard to control and can be dangerous in a high wind event.

– What can blow away? In winds of up to 100 mph anything that can blow away will blow away. Even livestock/horse trailers! Ours are filled with straw, which helps weigh them down, but there have been times the tractors were used to help anchor them down. A reality is those trailers can be blown over fairly easily with wind like they are now having. We have also had portions of haystacks blow down, various trash cans, and basically anything that isn’t weighted down or tied down blow away (eventually recovered at a fenceline). This can be a very dangerous situation for human and/or animal.

– Trees. Cottonwood trees grow well in their area, they offer shade, and can get very large. Several years ago, my parents decided to cut down the ones near the house as it posed a huge concern that they could blow over in a high wind event and destroy the house and anyone in the house. Trees near any structure in a high wind event should be monitored, as they pose a serious concern.

– Transportation. If the amount of snow comes that they are predicting, transportation will become very difficult if nonexistent for a couple of days. Growing up in the mountains you learn how to drive in bad weather at high altitudes and to appreciate a set of chains and an emergency winter kit (i.e. water, blankets, snacks, clothes, etc.) for your vehicle. You also know what it means to stay home if the weather gets too bad (I mean that is where the Donner Party passed through!). You also make the most of your shopping trips, stocking up on plenty of food and water in case you aren’t able to get out for several days.

– Loss of power. As I mentioned, it is not uncommon for my folks to loose power in a severe storm. However, this presents some real challenges. Luckily in our area wood burning stoves are the norm, so heat is provided. Everyone has a generator to rotate between freezers and refrigerators. And it is kind of like camping – salami, cheese, crackers, and a cold beverage is on the menu!

winter storm
Winter weather isn’t new for ranchers in Northern California, you just do the best you can for your animals and wait for it to pass.

This storm will not be a walk in the park, but by preparing now it will make things easier as the storm continues to pound the area with wind, rain, and snow. While this storm is daunting, the thought of moisture is exciting – as it is desperately needed.

I have blogged about cold weather animal care, preparing animals for severe weather, and preparing for a disaster.

What do you do to prepare for severe weather events?

____________________

Look for me at the follow places too:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)