<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to Country Smallholding today click here

How to prepare your smallholding for winter

PUBLISHED: 09:54 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:56 09 November 2017

Get ready - winter is on its way!

Get ready - winter is on its way!


Jack Smellie offers some tips on how to prepare your smallholding for the winter

There is plenty of winter preparation to be done on the smallholding at this time of year:


Ideally barns and sheds should be full of your predicted hay/haylage/silage and straw requirements by October/November and, assuming you have the storage space, you really want enough to keep you going through till March. If, like us, vehicular access in the winter is poor, getting those bales in is crucial before the land becomes too soggy. No two winters are the same, but we keep all-year round records of our hay/straw usage so we can sensibly predict the numbers we need.

Livestock numbers

Your winter numbers should be as low as practical. You don’t want the extra work or feed costs that come with carrying ‘additional passengers’; nor do you want the extra feet on your land. This is particularly important for poultry numbers just in case we have another avian flu lockdown – something that seems fairly likely, especially in high risk areas.


Hopefully none of us will be short of water (definitely not in the South West), but making sure that you can collect it where you need it and direct what you don’t need away into ditches/drains, is crucial. The soggy summer has shown us several places where we need more drainage and convinced us to get bigger water tanks to collect the run-off from our field shelters/barns. Other water related preparations include checking, cleaning and fixing guttering and ensuring any hosepipes we use to fill containers are leak free.


We are a huge fan of woodchip to help stop that mud-creep. We have a woodchip goat path that allows our goats to get from the barn to their field shelter, an outside woodchip ‘cow pad’ attached to our winter cow sheds, and we also use woodchip in front of some of our field shelters. Now is the time to top all these up, not in the middle of winter when access is rubbish and the mud has started to win. It’s the same if you need to put hardcore down by any gateways.


You may not use as many tools/machinery over the winter, but what you do use needs to really be up for the job, so make sure everything is fixed, greased, sharpened as required and that you have enough of everything. We have one pitchfork by each barn/stable/shelter; that way we don’t have to carry them around or put the job off because we haven’t got what we need right there and then.


You want to minimise traffic on the land as much as you can (animal and human) so make sure all equipment/feed etc is where you need it – no late night head-torch mud slides to retrieve that water trough you should have moved weeks ago. If, like us, you have to swap the quad for the two-wheeled wheelbarrow, make sure it’s accessible and ready to go: tyre pressures checked, dust caps in place, axles greased.


You will have more limping sheep, coughing goats etc, so make sure your medical/health box is winter-proofed. Talk to your vet and get in what you think you will need.


Don’t forget yourself! Make sure your wellies don’t leak, your coats are still waterproof, your torches are charged and that your other half has the kettle on, the fire lit and the hot chocolate brownies ready and waiting for when you get back inside!


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Country Smallholding visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Country Smallholding staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Country Smallholding account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Interact with other smallholders and post your questions

Visit our forums

More from Land

Friday, March 9, 2018

Debbie Kingsley outlines the rules and regulations for smallholding – this month registering your holding and your livestock

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Expert answers to your questions. This time, how to wean kids from the mothers

Read more
March 2018
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Extend your growing season, says Kim Stoddart

Read more
March 2018
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What exactly is a smallholder? Tim Tyne reflects on this perennial question in his new series on the more challenging aspects of ‘the good life’’

Read more
March 2018
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

If you’re worried about contamination in your chickens’ water, look no further than the all new Cleanflo Drinker from BEC

Read more
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Vet Charlotte Mouland discusses ringworm in cattle, the disease to watch out for in winter

Read more
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jack Smellie offers some tips on how to prepare your smallholding for the winter

Read more
Friday, October 6, 2017

Debbie Kingsley talks to Charlotte and Anthony Barnes about their Castlemilk Moorits

Read more
Friday, October 6, 2017

Kim Stoddart explains why wild flowers should be a welcome addition to any smallholding

Read more
Friday, October 6, 2017

To launch a new series, Jack Smellie asks what successful breeding actually means and what we can do to achieve it

Read more

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

This Year’s Shows

Country Smallholding cover image

Don’t miss our comprehensive guide to rural events

Find out more

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter