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Winter months give farmers, ranchers time to catch up

Farm & Ranch Life |

Posted on: Jan 05th 2017

Source: Texas Farm Bureau

Fences need mending. Gates need welding. Equipment needs to be repaired or replaced. Tasks can pile up fast while farmers and ranchers are busy with planting, harvesting, baling and cutting hay.

But the winter months give farmers and ranchers time to catch up.

“It’s easy to keep busy,” Tom Barker, 7P Ranch manager, told AgriLife Today. “Even in the off-season, there’s a fence to fix or clear. There’s always something.”

Gates can be damaged by cattle while loading, and those repairs usually have to be put on hold, Barker said. The winter months give him, and other farmers and ranchers, time to concentrate on general farm maintenance.

Equipment should be winterized before hard freezing temperatures arrive, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent Chad Gully said. Any equipment that has moisture remaining should be checked and protected from freeze damage. Coolants in equipment should also be checked.

“Some things have to be put off during the season when you’re trying to keep up with the work,” Gully said. “You’re just keeping equipment running to keep up with cutting and baling. Winter months give you some time to make those repairs and do those things you’ve put off.”

The cooler temperatures also reduce the snakes and bugs, like mosquitoes and wasps, making it easier to mend and clear fences, Gully said. The wetter conditions during the winter can provide an opportunity to burn debris.

“It’s good to clear fence rows and fix places where limbs have fallen across them,” Gully said.

The winter also provides the time row crop farms need to make repairs, get planters serviced and maintain fences, according to Dr. Jourdan Bell, AgriLife Extension agronomist in Amarillo.

“In addition to repairing equipment, a large percentage of northern High Plains row crop farmers also have cattle on wheat, or they lease out their wheat for winter pasture. Consequently, they also have fences to maintain and cattle to look after through the winter,” he said.

Balers and disc mowers are high maintenance equipment, according to Robert Brooks, owner of Rose Country Tractor and Equipment in Tyler.

Brooks said tractors are typically low maintenance, needing only oil and oil filter changes and greasing. But newer equipment requires maintenance by professionals.

Brooks warns equipment owners to be vigilant for mice during the winter. He recommends cleaning out hay and keeping rat poison scattered in equipment and electric wiring.

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