Could This Winter Be as Wet as Last? Here’s How to Prepare

The Old Farmer's Almanac has released their forecast for this winter. “Mild, with soakers” is how Indiana is labeled. I don’t put a lot of weight on these forecasts, but they often line up with other forecasts and occasionally are completely correct. If this forecast holds true, I think we all need to prepare for a winter similar to last year. This past winter, I kept hoping for some free concrete—frozen ground. I only had about a dozen days and that's not enough. To add true misery for both me and the livestock, it seemed to rain every two or three days, picking up momentum as we got closer to spring. I don't like to see pastures or crop fields torn up. Grazing under wet conditions is bad enough during the growing season, but it's an absolutely painful sight during the dormant season because you know it's going to be a while before it looks better! I might even wish for a little snow to cover it up. Most of us bank on dry or frozen ground for grazing stockpiled forage, and especially when you are grazing corn residue and or winter annuals. You don't want compaction, but the wetter it is, the higher the possibility. Roots from cover crops and the freezing and thawing process can relieve some of this, but it does have to freeze to get all the benefits! So, what can you do to prepare for the possibility of another long, wet muddy winter? All livestock producers need a contingency plan for both summer and winter. First, look at your animal numbers. My advi

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3 thoughts on “Could This Winter Be as Wet as Last? Here’s How to Prepare

    1. They need good seed to soil contact for the best results and not too much competition. A harvested crop field is ideal.

  1. Thank you so much for this article about the realities of overwintering animals in the damp midwest. Sure, it would be great to be feeding hay across the pastures but in mild wet winters on heavy clay soils it just doesn’t work for the reasons you stated.
    I’m in SW Michigan grazing sheep and another problem I have with muddy ground is how to move the shelters(which are needed when it’s cold and rainy) from paddock to paddock when you can’t use a tractor on the wet ground. I’m trying to find/ make smaller lighter shelters that can be moved on foot but not destroyed by wind and sheep.
    Even though I am committed to grazing, I can see how keeping animals in barns and surfaced yards and bringing the fodder to them has lots of advantages! I’m trying to find a good balance.

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