grazing in snow

Actually, snow isn’t an obstacle to intensive grazing; cattle will dig through several feet of snow to reach the grass underneath.  Snow can even be an asset, cutting down on the frequency with which we have to fill the stock water tanks, since grazing in snow goes a long way toward answering a ruminant’s need for water.    In northern Canada, as we learned a couple of weeks ago, some stockmen don’t bother to provide tank water in winter, finding it unnecessary for animals on stockpiled forage.  Don’t gasp and be dismayed for the animals before you consider that nature doesn’t provide frost-free spigots and stock tank de-icers either.  Of course, using body heat to melt snow takes energy which some farmers think should be spent in weight gain, but then around here running a de-icer costs about a dollar a day, and that’s energy, too.  But here in Ohio our snow cover isn’t so reliable, and we have to fill tanks daily (for the dry cows, numbering around fifteen to present date) or every other day (for the two lactating cows).  Hoses have to be drained conscientiously , or they’ll be plugged with ice and useless the next time we need them.  At least for the next few weeks — then we’ll be moving around to the grass on the west side of the farm, where the spring tanks run all winter.

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