An Informal Experiment in Keeping Tanks Thawed

Continuing with the theme of reducing time outside and preventing water tank problems over the winter, here is a video by Our Wyoming Life showing an informal experiment using different equipment and methods to keep tanks thawed. The experiment includes minimizing cost and maximizing thawing so you might find some helpful hints to save money. Having do deal with frozen tanks can be a major hazard in winter. You have to deal with cold exposure, trying to break ice while standing on ice, and trying to fix electrical equipment when your mobility is limited due to the cold and extra clothing. The less tank maintenance you need to do over the winter, the better. I also appreciate all of the safety equipment you can see in the background of the video; ATV helmets in the truck, cargo straps, fenced off electrical equipment, and overall cleanliness and organization. They seem to have a lot of neat videos so I’m going to binge watch a bunch of them and see what else I can pick out that would help with safety and prevention.

Video: Winter Cattle Care

Thought I’d share this video by the Nebraska extension on caring for cattle during the winter. Most of the video is about keeping cattle comfortable and well-fed over the winter, but a lot of strategies that are good for cattle are good for the farmer too. Planning ahead and dealing with any infrastructure problems before the really cold weather hits reduces the likelihood of having to deal with an emergency when the weather is awful. Some preventative maintenance on water heaters, pipes/hoses, fences, gates, feed systems, and light fixtures can prevent problems later on, and it is important to deal with any mud or standing water before it freezes. You can also think about moving feeders around to make them as easy to access as possible over the winter. The more you can take a preventative approach, the more problems you’ll be able to avoid.

Video: Dealing with mud in feedlots

I’m out working on the farm for the summer and the big struggle the past few days has been dealing with the heavy rain and mud. Mud is a pain to deal with but it actually can have a big impact on safety too. When I look through the database, I see a lot of reports that have muddy conditions as a major cause of injury. There seem to be three main ways in which mud leads to injuries. The first scenario is where muddy conditions forces farmers into unusual situations where an injury is more likely to occur. For example, a tractor gets stuck in the mud, and in the process of getting it unstuck, someone gets their fingers pinched in a chain. The second scenario is doing an everyday task becomes more dangerous due to muddy conditions. For example, moving cattle in the mud causes someone to slip and fall and hurt their knee. The third scenario is where mud builds up on a surface and either hides a hazard or gunks up the grips on a surface. For example, slipping on tractor steps that have gotten muddy or stepping on a nail buried in the mud. I’m going to try to put together a couple more articles this week focusing on different ways of dealing with mud in different parts of the farm.

The video I’m sharing today is from a series called Doc Talk, which features a vet associated with the Kansas extension. The video talks about mud management from the standpoint of optimizing profit and cattle health in beef operations, but keeping mud levels under control can prevent injuries too.

Preparing for another bomb cyclone in the Midwest

I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather and it sounds like much of the Midwest might get another bomb cyclone in the next few days. Depending on where you live this could mean snow, freezing rain, or thunderstorms with high winds a lot of precipitation. This couldn’t have come at a worse time since we’re well into calving seasons and wanting to start planning.

The article I’m sharing today is from Beef Magazine, and it gives some tips on being prepared for the bad weather. High on the list is doing as much work in advance as you can to get cows who are about due to calve moved and doing as much feed prep as you are able to. Minimizing the amount of time spent outside when the weather is bad is the best approach, so if you’re in the path of the storm, try to get as much advanced preparation in as you can. For those who are getting snow and ice, also make sure that you have sand and salt ready for walkways. There were a number of reports of people being injured by falling on ice added to the database over the winter and a few minutes of salting/sanding can make a big difference in preventing falls. This might also be a good time to have a check-in plan in place so that something goes wrong out in the field and you’re not able to call for help other people know that there is a problem and come find you sooner rather than later. Make sure at least one other person knows where you will be working and when you expect to check in, and be sure to contact that person if your plan changes. Stay safe out there!

Here is the original article from Beef Magazine:

Preventing Animal/Human Disease Transfer

Today I’m sharing a recent release from the Washington extension office about preventing disease transfer from animals to humans and vice versa. The information sheet was designed with dairy farmers in mind, but these tips would work for any type of animal. There have been a couple of studies lately linking livestock farming, especially hog farming, with MRSA (
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria that has become resistant to common antibiotics) so consider making a disease prevention plan if you don’t already have one. It’s especially important to wash your hands frequently, and to not eat near the animals. Taking time off every time you have a cold might not be possible, but if you have to work while sick wearing an antimicrobial mask can help prevent you from infecting anyone else.

Click on the link below to see the article by the Washington extension:

Click here to see an example of antimicrobial masks:

Video: Animal Handling from the Dairy Safety Video Series

I came across a great series of videos on the US Agricultural Safety and Health Centers Youtube channel. The series is called Dairy Safety Training and the first video is on animal handling. They do a great job explaining where a cow’s blind spot is and how to get animals to move with the least amount of stress to you and them. I could see this series being a good tool to introduce new employees to animal handling too.


Safety Tech: The Safety Zone Calf Catcher and Wisconsin Extension DIY Calf Catcher

Came across this video today and thought I’d share.  The name of this device is the Safety Zone calf catcher.  It’s designed to attach to an ATV. It helps make it easier to catch calves for vaccinating and to keep you safe from mom in the process.  My dad actually improvised a similar device years ago by curving a wire panel fence into a circle so he could carry it with him and put it over the calf.  This device is a big improvement though because it reduces the risk of falling while catching the calf, has a much sturdier design, and has the inner gate to help hold the calf still. Costing around $2,000, it is more expensive than a foot hook or a wire panel fence, but it’s a huge improvement in safety and convenience.

Click here to see the Safety Zone website.

When I did a quick search to look for alternate products, I also came across a website from the Wisconsin extension that shows a similar homemade device that can mount to the back of a small tractor. The website includes a set of plans for building your own. The plans don’t include the inner gate that the Safety Zone version has, but it would be easy enough to add one if you want.  They didn’t mention how much it cost to build their prototype, but if you have the time to build your own, you might be able to save some money.

Click here to see the Wisconsin extension’s calf catcher

Click here to see plans for the Wisconsin extension calf catcher.