What do you do about water in the winter, especially if your cattle are grazing the whole season? These Alberta ranchers have a variety of solutions. Some use frost-free nose pumps, others pump water, and some let the cattle use the snow around them.
It turns out, having water in each pasture isn’t necessary. “We start close to the water and as we move farther away, they have to walk farther. At the end, they have to walk a half mile,” says Darren Frank of Dercam Farms. Other ranchers second his observation and one notes that some cows are too lazy to walk in every day if there’s enough snow for them to use.
How do you know if your cows can manage with snow cover? Duncan MacMillan says that if your cows start licking at the first snowfall in the fall then you’re good for the winter. “But if you lose your snow in the fall and you have to go back to water, and then you’ve got to start them back on snow, that’s definitely hard on cows,” he says. MacMillan prefers using snow to water his herd, but cautions that you need enough quality snow.
This video is part of a series showing how Alberta ranchers approach winter grazing. We’re sharing some of the videos this fall to help you think about how this might work for you too, and to learn from some old hands at the practice. If you’re ready for more, head here to check out the whole video series.
If you’ve got suggestions of your own, share them in the comments below. And if you have questions, share those too. If one of our On Pasture Community doesn’t have an answer, we’ll be happy to look for a solution for you.