How to Winterize Your Barn
Whether you’re a fan of winter or not, it’s on its way, and with it comes harsh weather. Strong winds, snow, hail, sleet, all the nastiest precipitation that makes you think twice about venturing outside. Winter is the season where your property can sustain the most damage, especially buildings that have not been properly prepared for the season. One of the most important buildings that need attention on the farm this time of year is your barn. For some, it is a safe haven for livestock and horses where they can seek shelter from the worst of storms in comfort. For others, it is a place where important equipment is stored until it is needed again in the spring. Whatever the case may be, don’t wait for a problem to arise in the winter. Make preparations now to prevent emergency situations or repairs with numb fingers. Here are few things you can do to ensure that your barn will stand up against even the worst weather.
Take a Walk
Walk around your barn, both inside and out. Make a note of anything that needs to be repaired or replaced from the roof down to the foundation. From loose or rusty nails or screws to worn shingles or panels, fix them now – don’t wait for them to fail. Replace cracked or broken shingles and siding. Freezing and thawing will make them worse, and could lead to bigger, more expensive problems.
Clean up around and in the barn, and make note of any supplies you are running low on. Stock up on items you will need. Remove old hay and bedding, these things can harbor mold and drastically reduce the air quality in the barn, especially when it is shut up tight for winter. Wash the floors, walls, windows, doors and light fixtures–spring is not the only time for cleaning, really get in there. Remove fire risks, including cobwebs, dust, birds’ nest and fuel.
Outside the barn, make sure to clear away debris from the ground. Once the snow falls, neither you nor your animals will know it’s there, leaving potential for an injury. If there are trees next to your barn, are there any that look like they won’t make it through the season? Take a look at the branches; are there any that are hanging over the roof? Now is a good time to remove trees and branches that could fall in a storm. Also, check the roof of the barn and remove debris and from clear out the gutters.
In the winter, you are going to be running lights more often as well as heaters. It’s important to check all of the wiring. Make sure that wires are not kinked, warn or damaged in any way. Replace wiring that is even questionable, better safe than sorry. Make sure to inspect your heaters, light fixtures and fire alarms. If there is no fire alarm in your barn, get one. When it’s time to turn on the heat, ramp up its use slowly. The heater has been sitting unused for several months, cranking it up to full blast could lead to a failure. Also inspect the water supply to the barn. Make sure the water pressure is adequate. Insulate any exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing. If you have a well, make sure the pump is in good working order.
A properly insulated insulated barn will prevent heat loss and lower your heating bill. If you use TekFoilTM Reflective Insulation in the attic or along the ceiling of your barn, it will reduce up to 97% of radiant heat transfer. Radiant heat transfer can account for up to 75% of heat loss in the winter. Installing reflective insulation is a worthwhile investment and will make your barn much more energy efficient. The windows and doors are the next place that will need some attention. Caulking the seams will help seal any leaks and keep heat in. Snow is a natural insulator. A small layer of snow on the roof will help keep the barn warn, but don’t let it accumulate too much. When it snows and you clear paths around the barn, push the snow against it, this will also help to insulate the building.
You don’t want drafts, but you also don’t want to seal up the barn so tight that fresh air can’t get in. Stagnant air can cause respiratory problems and promote mold growth. Keep a few fans in the barn, they will help to move the air and distribute heat from heaters, but don’t blow the air directly at your animals.
Your livestock are not the only animals interested in staying in the barn during the winter. Rodents and other pests want to come in too. To help prevent them from making themselves at home, make sure to keep feed in rodent-proof containers. If food is not easily accessible in your barn, rodents are less likely to nest there. Traps and bait stations can help to control rodents if they are in your barn. To keep birds from coming in, you can install predator decoys or ultrasonic repellers to scare them away.
Sand and rock salt – melt ice and provide traction for you and livestock. Flashlights – power outages happen frequently in the winter, especially during inclement weather. Clean bedding – good bedding helps to provide insulation against a cold floor. Insulated Livestock Waterer or Heated Livestock Waterer – The be sure your livestock drink enough in the winter. Animals prefer warm water to ice cold water.