Winter Power Failure on the Farm
Keeping Animals and Equipment Safe
A winter power failure or fuel
shortage can cause problems on farms, but being prepared can keep
problems to a minimum. Ideally you should have a standby
electric generator for emergency power.
Assuming you have no power, take the
following precautions to keep animals and equipment safe.
POULTRY AND LIVESTOCK
To protect poultry and livestock during a power
If you have an outside source of water, cattle can be
turned out to drink it. Be sure to place sand or other gritty material
on icy feedlots to provide good footing. Whatever the source of water,
watch that it remains unfrozen so animals can drink it.
- Ventilate buildings. Do not close buildings
tight to conserve heat, since animals could suffocate from lack of
oxygen. Clear ice and snow from all vents because oxygen will
eventually be used up in mechanically ventilated production
facilities. Then open vents to facilitate natural air flow.
- Provide water. All animals, especially cattle,
need plenty of water during cold weather. It may be possible to
drive your water pump with a small gasoline engine and a belt.
Otherwise, you will need to haul water.
- Provide heat. Use camp stoves and heaters as
emergency heat sources for brooders. Plan ahead to have this
equipment ready when needed.
- Provide feed. Animals need extra energy for
body heat during severe or prolonged cold weather, especially if
they are outside without shelter. Mechanical feeders will be
inoperable during a power failure. Provide for emergency feeding
Unplug or turn off all electric equipment to
prevent damage when power is restored.
If you use portable space heaters for supplemental
heat, close off the fuel valve as soon as possible after power is
interrupted. (On models not equipped with safety shut-offs, and
especially on some models with gravity feed fuel systems, fuel continues
to flow even when the burner is inoperative. An explosion or fire could
result when power is restored.)
- Request that the dairy pick up milk as soon as
- Consider adding a standby power generator to
handle vital electric equipment. Even if you are short of extra milk
storage facilities, do not store milk in stock tanks or other
containers. Dairy plants may not accept milk that has been stored in
anything other than regular milk storage containers. Check with your
local dairy about policy regarding emergency storage of milk.
If you are unable to cool your milk or have it
picked up, check your tank for souring each time you add milk to it.
This check could mean the difference between losing all or only part of
your milk supply.