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Winter planning is the process of preparing your farm for the colder months, ensuring the well-being of the animals and the environment. This page guides you in setting up a successful winter on your farm by creating clear winter grazing plans, selecting appropriate paddocks, choosing suitable crops, communicating with contractors, and cultivating winter crops. It also focuses on Critical Source Area management. Detailed policies and procedures cover animal welfare aspects such as calving, water provision, diet balancing, storm protection, and comfortable lying surfaces for stock. Tools like checklists and videos are provided to assist you in implementing these plans effectively.
Winter planning is crucial for setting up for a successful winter.
Consider all the below aspects in the planning stage.Winter grazing plans create clear expectations for everyone on the farm on how wintering is to be done, help identify areas for improvement, and can provide information to others of our practices.
The farming sector has developed two resources to assist you with wintering. The first is a quick checklist you can use to spot any improvements you can make before winter arrives. The second is a Winter Grazing Plan which will help you take the right steps to continue lifting wintering standards.
The Break Fed guide focuses on implementing Good Management Practices (GMPs) at the paddock level to look after the environment, the animals and the people working within the system.
An effective wintering plan:
Including animal care factors in your wintering policies ensures the whole farm team understand the levels of care expected on your farm during winter.
Your goal in winter is to set up both your cows and your farm for a productive spring. Wintering policies usually cover feed and environment, but the needs of the cow are not always spelled out. By being clear, you can ensure everyone involved understands what is required around animal care. Your wintering plan and goals for your herd will benefit from having input from your vet.
The wintering taskforce (which was set up to identify where improvements could be made to animal welfare during periods of intensive winter grazing provided) provided clarity on what animals need over winter. These needs should be included in wintering policies outlined below.
Policy: we ensure our cows calve in the right environment.
Timed pregnancy diagnosis allows you to be well organised by identifying the animals closest to calving to come back to the milking platform first. Talk to your vet about adopting this.
Policy: Our animals have convenient access to clean water.
Policy: We provide access to a balanced diet.
Your vets can provide advice on minerals, including working with blood results to ensure the right minerals are fed to ensure value for money.
See the Fodder Beet Transitioning page for guidelines and resources.
Policy: We avoid deaths during transition and breakouts because of power outages.
For information on what to consider when using fodder beet see the Fodder beet page.
Policy: We protect our stock during adverse events.
Policy: We provide a comfortable lying surface for all stock.
Persistent rain over several days requires similar management to an adverse weather event.
For your wintering paddocks define what is comfortable for your cows, or if it easier, define what is uncomfortable.
Describe how you manage the herd and paddock when it becomes uncomfortable.
Minimising the challenges around cow comfort and environmental management begins well before winter, with selecting the right paddock for planting. Building a policy on how you select paddocks to ensure animal and environmental good management practices are met is easier than having policies that fix challenges which could have been prevented.
You might like to include some other goals that set out general expectations around animal welfare on your farm:
By including good management practices like a back fence and portable troughs in your plan ensures animals and the environment are protected. Decide with your team where they will be placed in the paddock and how often they will be shifted.