Florida very seldom gets much snow at all, but freezing temps and snow are more likely in the northern parts of the state. In fact, most North Florida locales see temperatures drop below freezing at least once each year, according to Weather.com.
When it’s time to determine which parts of your farm to use as outdoor winter feeding areas for your livestock there are lots of factors you should consider in order to maintain their health and performance. If your feeding area isn’t well suited it could be detrimental to their well-being.
Here are some major factors to consider when identifying the most accommodating winter feeding spots for your cattle.
Soils range in their abilities to hold nutrients, drain water, and support weight. So before you select winter feeding areas for your livestock it’s important to know the characteristics of the soil.
Depending upon where your farm is located, soil survey data may be available through published soil survey books, or via an electronic format like a web soil survey—which we’ve discussed in a previous post. Once you’re equipped with a soil survey you’ll need to identify the type of soil(s) on your farm, and determine its strengths and weaknesses, before selecting your winter feeding areas.
Your farm may have a variety of environmentally-sensitive areas, like streams, springs or seeps, ditches, wellheads, or subsurface drainage tiles. So be sure that you don’t allow animal waste to accumulate in or around those types of areas.
Manure nutrients can build up quickly in winter feeding areas, especially if the same area is used every year. So it’s wise to perform an annual soil test in and around the winter feeding area to monitor the soil’s level of fertility.