When deciding on which areas of your farm to use as outdoor winter pastures, or feeding areas, for your cattle there are lots of factors to consider in order to maintain the health and performance of your animals.
If your feeding area is not well planned it could result in problems like soil erosion, soil compaction, excessive buildup of soil nutrients, and damage to plants. Most importantly, it could be detrimental to the health of your livestock.
Consider these important factors when choosing a suitable feeding spot for your cattle.
Your Cattle’s Basic Needs
Your winter feeding spot needs to provide your animals with sufficient feed, access to water, shelter from high winds, and relatively dry soil conditions. These are all crucial considerations, and if any aspects are left unmet your outdoor wintering system will fail your cattle.
When it comes to the layout of your land choose higher ground as feeding areas because it drains best and is naturally protected from surface water flow from adjoining areas. Very flat sites are prone to ponding surface water and excessive soil compaction.
Avoid high ridge tops due to typical high winds, unless a tree line or windbreak is available to help shield your livestock from the wind.
Also, steer clear of very steep sites since they’re more likely to experience rapid run off and soil erosion.
In the most ideal conditions your outdoor winter-feeding areas should have southern or southeastern exposure to the sun. Sunlight can help increase soil temperature, reduce soil moisture, and improve the comfort of your cattle. Stay away from areas that have obstructions to the south, like hills, trees, or buildings, that could block sunlight. Shaded areas tend to be colder and slower to dry after rainy or snowy weather.