I don’t know if it’s the same where you are, but my goodness, has the weather been crazy the last few weeks! With all the snow, rain, ice, and cold – it makes it hard to even get out of the house! The #polarvortex struggle is real. While I’m warm and safely cozied up with my computer screen, sitting at my desk, there are many a GAP farmer that are getting ready to brave the cold, dark, early winter mornings. There is no such thing as a “snow day” for farmers – even when mother nature brings her worst, the animals still need care.
Farmers are often awake at the crack of dawn, trying to squeeze the most out of every day. Different management systems require different things, but attention to detail is important in all farming. Making sure the animals are safe, warm, fed, and watered are important all year-round, be that in the winter to increase bedding for warmth or the summer to ensure they stay cool. Think of newborn piglets that need extra care – for our partners, Karro Food Group, this means making sure that sows farrowing in outdoor huts are given sufficient bedding and nesting materials to help keep her piglets warm. In the photo below, you can see the farrowing huts along the left – these house one sow and all of her piglets, once they’re born. These huts can stay pretty warm with body heat from the sow and piglets, think of them as the engines that generate the heat and the huts are designed to keep that heat in the winter and cool in the summer. Clever insulation technology is used in farming just like that used in houses for people.
Some early morning checks in the winter involve checking water lines to make sure they haven’t frozen, adjusting diets to help keep pigs warm, making sure pens and huts are dry, checking for sick pigs, and the list goes on. We know GAP farmers are passionate about their pigs – because nobody gets up early on winter mornings unless they care.
A winter limerick:
On cold winter days such as these,
Everyone else is dreaming of palm trees.
But farmers must rise and shine,
To check that the pigs are fine.
Thank goodness it’s not me who has to freeze.
We want to hear from you! If you are a farmer or rancher, what are some of the things you do to care for your animals in the winter?
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