Our snow was almost all gone but Saturday night (February 4) it started to drift down again and continued all day Sunday and into Monday. Light fluffy snow with a temperature about -15 and little wind. An accumulation of 6-7 inches by Monday morning means that the cows need to be moved from the area they have been grazing in, back to a pasture that is more accessible for us to provide feed. They have been winter grazing in a hilly pasture, which if the wind blows there will be snowbanks where our feed truck may get stuck and it could become very difficult to get the bales delivered to these cows.
So today, Monday, the cows are walking south to a closer pasture. The truck with a bale leads the way – carefully choosing known trails even though it is hard to see them in the white out conditions, and someone walks behind to ensure no stragglers. The snow is still soft and fluffy – too dangerous to use a horse which might slip on hidden ice, or step into a snow camouflaged hole. The snow is too deep to use a 4 wheeler without getting stuck, and the snowmobile has not been used this winter (no one even considered trying to start it, let alone think it would be dependable), so walking is the best solution. Walking in 8 inches of snow for over 10 km is a work out, but not an unusual expectation when taking care of cattle.Over the last month of winter grazing the cows have done well. They have maintained their body condition and are looking good going into the last trimester of pregnancy. The 10 – 12 pounds of second-cut hay each day supplying 2 – 2.5 pounds of protein have enabled them to utilize the cured native grass.
These cows are going onto full winter feed from now until late April. The feed amounts will be adjusted on a daily basis depending on weather (temperature & wind) and the amount that the cows leave after a daily feeding. Any un-utilized grass will be saved as a drought reserve for next season, in case of lack of moisture during the growing season.