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Winter Cattle windbreak when practicing winter grazing  RSS feed

 
Posts: 11
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 5b
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I am looking at getting beef cattle next summer, and winter grazing them as late in the season as I can.

However, in the winter we get a tremendous cold west wind that will rip your face off as most treelines have been ripped out for miles to the west of our property. I plan to plant a windbreak next year, but it will be a few years before it's even minimally effective.

What do other people do for temporary winter shelter?

Once it gets later in the year (and winter grazing is no longer feasible due to snow cover), I will make a sacrifice paddock near my barn with a run in area. However, I'd like to Winter graze as long as feasible, if I can shelter them from the wind.
 
Posts: 42
Location: Saskatchewan zone 2/3
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I am not a cattle farmer, so take my comments for what they're worth, but in Saskatchewan and Alberta, I have often seen portable windbreaks (and some not-so-portable) that were basically a tall fence made of rough cut lumber fixed vertically with a small space (an inch or two) between the slats, either on a metal frame/stand (portable), or posts sunk in the ground (and occasionally trees).  I'll see if I can find and link a photo of what I am talking about. 

edit to add:  people here use three-sided shelters (with the closed back / long side oriented to the prevailing wind) as horse, goat, and cattle shelters, as well, but that won't help them get out and grazing in wind / cold temperatures. 
 
Jess Dee
Posts: 42
Location: Saskatchewan zone 2/3
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The photo in Figure 3, about halfway down the page, is the sort of windbreak fence I see around here a lot, though local fences are usually made of rough-cut lumber.  It could probably be made from poles, too, if you had a lot of little trees to thin out. 

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/beef/news/vbn1109a2.htm
 
Jess Dee
Posts: 42
Location: Saskatchewan zone 2/3
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...and here is a link to a random site that has photos of something like the 3 sided sheds folks use here for livestock shelters:

http://www.shadebuilder.com/loafing-shed.html
 
Brian Vraken
Posts: 11
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 5b
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Thanks Jess,

The problem I see with many of the designs I've looked at is that's is hard to find something that is truly 'portable'. For instance, this time of year, I would hope to still be able to have my cattle out on a daily rotation through stockpiled forage. However, we still have days and nights where we need wind protection, which means whatever I build will need to follow the cattle through the daily rotation.

Unforutnately, the land here is flat as a pancake and treeless, which means there is very little natural protection for the cattle.

The other option may be to stop backfencing after a certain point to allow the cattle to retreat to the leeward side of a building or to a run-in. However, I don't know if it would create a problem with their shelter being hundreds of feet from their daily grazing portion.
 
Jess Dee
Posts: 42
Location: Saskatchewan zone 2/3
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You're right - even the 'portable' shelters and windbreaks are only portable if you have a big tractor, and I would question some of them even then.  I am not sure what the solution would be. 

 
Posts: 32
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I guess I would look at it based on design precepts for a wind break I've seen online and what raw materials I had nearby or inexpensively obtained, so a few ideas.

Find an old crapped out commercial box trailer that could be utilized as a portable windbreak. Advantages would include being able to extend the length and height by attaching materials to the side. Also I it would presumable retain some of its value once it use as a windbreak either as storage or by selling. Disadvantage would be difficulty of repositioning requiring a truck, issues relating to oil compaction or just not being able to get a truck over the field, even if available at a reasonable cost.  Use an old truck to park as a windbreak, similar issues as above plus added effort maintaining the vehicle so it could be moved.

A CONEX container would make a decent solid windbreak. If placed on round wood logs movement with a pickup truck or tractor is feasible depending on the terrain.

Get a flatbed trailer and construct a frame our of metal or wood on it and faced with available materials to make your windbreak. Advantage is moving could be done rather easily. Weight and/or outriggers would probably be needed to keep it from being blown over.  What you see in image searches online that either rough boards or steel highway guardrails attached to metal frames (sometimes with wheels).

Based on whatever is utilized, estimates of the area affected by the windbreak, creating shelter from the harsh winds should be able to be estimated with some accuracy. My reading on windbreaks is that natural stands of trees and hedges used as windbreaks allow for some air to pass through creating a buffer area of slower wind on both the windward and leeward sides of the break, say for argument 10 MPH vs 30 MPH. A solid fence, such as a stone wall, while creating g a buffer on the windward side has a tendency to create turbulence on the leeward side. So it follows that gaps in the windbreak allowing some wind at a reduce velocity to exfiltrate through may not be a bad thing.

Good luck with your project!



 
pollinator
Posts: 441
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Beat up old RVs can be had dirt cheap... probably not nice to live in but suitable for blocking wind.
 
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