February 10, 2017

Designed with Livestock in Mind

      From improving site aesthetics to enhancing neighbor relations, a properly planted windbreak can serve many functions on the farm. Most importantly, trees can protect livestock from inclement weather conditions including harsh winds, blowing snow or extreme temperatures.

     Whether livestock are raised in a feedlot, pasture or barn setting, windbreaks should be designed to meet the specific needs of the farm. The layout and tree species incorporated in the windbreak can be customized for optimum protection and economic benefit. Let’s take a closer look at tree planting considerations in an outdoor and indoor animal environment. 

Uncontrolled Outdoor Environment
      In an outdoor setting, an ideal windbreak will protect livestock from prevailing winds and falling temperatures in the winter, and provide shade and guide breezes during the summer months.
     The goal is to establish protective screening that allows the animals to maintain their body temperatures and avoid susceptibility to heat or cold stress. Ultimately, this can lead to an increase in feed efficiency and improve overall animal health.

Controlled Indoor Environment
     Under roof, the animal environment can be adjusted based on outdoor conditions. However, this often comes at a cost. Windbreaks can help lessen the cost by reducing the amount of energy needed to heat or cool livestock barns.  

     Windbreaks are also an effective tool in depositing or redirecting snow in desired areas. For example, a well-designed windbreak can help keep snow away from driveways and storage facilities or even prevent roof collapses.

     At the end of the day, windbreaks are a great investment on any livestock farm. Start designing your windbreak by visiting http://www.supportfarmers.com/programs/green-farmstead-partner-program.

By Haley Banwart, CSIF Assistant Field Specialist

January 9, 2017

Winter Guide to Windbreaks

     The holiday season may be over, but Old Man Winter remains. Tired of those inconvenient snow drifts piling up on your livestock farm? A properly planted windbreak can greatly reduce your time and effort spent on moving snow.

Two Approaches to Snow Control
     When it comes to windbreaks, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all tree planting. The design, location and species incorporated in your windbreak will all depend on your specific needs and typical winter conditions.

     In areas of high winds and blowing snow, windbreaks can be modified to do one of two things – either distribute the precipitation across a protected stretch of land, or deposit it in a designated area.

     To accomplish the first approach, a low density windbreak is established to allow snow to fall evenly across the farm. Uniform distribution not only reduces wind erosion on snow-covered fields, but captures moisture for water infiltration into the soil.

     The second snow control method calls for a dense, multiple row windbreak to pile snow in a restricted area. Designed as a living snow fence, this approach reduces the need to plow along driveways or around barns. Other benefits of a living snow fence include greater snow storage capacity, limited maintenance and a longer life span.

Designed with Livestock in Mind
     In addition to maintaining cleared lanes and driveways, windbreaks can reduce the amount of snow piling up around stored hay and feed. But most importantly, windbreaks provide a safe haven for your livestock.

     As you determine which windbreak design will best meet your goals, remember to consider how the tree planting will protect your farmsteads’ barns or feedlots and the livestock housed within those areas. Protection from strong winds and driving snow will help reduce animal stress, decrease feeding requirements and support animal health.

     At the end of the day, windbreaks protect you, your farm and your livestock. Ready to start planning your tree planting? Contact the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers or one of our partner nursery and landscape professionals. 

For more information, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit http://www.supportfarmers.com/programs/green-farmstead-partner-program.

By Haley Banwart, CSIF Assistant Field Specialist  

December 9, 2016

Trees: Your Long-Term, Low-Cost Solution

While there’s no silver bullet to completely mitigate livestock odors or control snow deposition, there is one solution many Iowa farmers turn to as the next best alternative – trees!  A properly designed windbreak not only reduces the impact of winds and inclement weather, but can dissipate odors, shift snowfall and enhance farm aesthetics.

In terms of sustainability and cost-effectiveness, trees are a valuable long-term, low-cost investment for new livestock farms as well as existing sites. Once they are established, trees function as a dependable tool - safeguarding your farm and the environment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

During the hot and humid summer months, windbreaks help change wind patterns to redirect livestock odors. Odorous gases are moved and mixed higher into the air, and are diluted as particles descend to the ground or onto other plant material.

Throughout the cold and harsh winter months, trees act as a natural barrier to prevent drifting around buildings, barns and driveways. When it comes to snow management, who wouldn’t love to trade their hours operating a snow plow or scoop shovel for a simple one-step solution?

The recent arrival of winter weather in Iowa provides the perfect opportunity for you to stay indoors and plan for a future windbreak on your livestock farm. Remember to keep the following considerations in mind as you design your site.

To achieve the best results, plant windbreaks on the north, west or northwest area of the site. Windbreaks in this location will protect your farm from harsh winter winds while also blocking odors carried by summer breezes. The east, south and southwest sides should be left open at ground level to allow breezes to cool curtain wall ventilated buildings during warmer months.

Finally, although a single-row windbreak can help reduce winter winds, the most effective windbreaks should have a minimum of three rows. Use a variety of fast-growing and slow-growing trees to establish lasting protection while also providing your farm with immediate visual and buffering benefits.

For tree planting assistance and to learn more about the Green Farmstead Partner Program, contact the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) at 1-800-932-2436 or visit http://www.supportfarmers.com/programs/green-farmstead-partner-program

By Haley Banwart, CSIF Assistant Field Specialist