Wintering Sites

 Knowledge Nuggets | Factsheets | Research Papers
Knowledge Nuggets
  • Wintering sites for livestock range from seasonal feeding fields such as those used for swath grazing, to more permanent traditional feeding and calving paddocks and yards.
  • For producers who are feeding out in fields and moving from place to place such as with swath or bale grazing or grazing on chaff piles, manure management is much less of a concern. There is a concentration of manure if you have a more traditional feeding system where cattle are penned up and feed is hauled to them.
  • The type of feeding system is important in the selection and layout of a wintering site. Move the feeding site regularly during the winter to avoid manure build up.
  • Surface runoff potential is a key consideration for locating wintering sites. Select a site that is sloped away from a water course or water body as a major step towards protecting water cleanliness. Other factors are precipitation, soil type, drainage patterns, vegetative cover and flooding potential.
  • To prevent seepage, avoid areas with high water tables or very porous soils such as sand, gravel or shale.
  • Potential water pollution requires managing cattle access, cattle density, feeding and bedding strategies, and runoff control methods such as vegetation residue or buffers left downslope and in riparian areas.
  • Minimize the time that cattle spend in riparian areas by offering alternative shelter and locate feed, water and bedding in another location.
  • As long as cows are in good condition, many producers are not concerned about providing bedding and find that snow is suitable and animals stay cleaner.
  • A very important part of a wintering site is the availability of safe, quality water or snow. Many options are available to you for providing off-site winterized watering. Many producers rely on adequate supplies of good quality snow for dry cows.
  • Cattle use predictable routes between the bedding, watering and feeding areas resulting in manure build up.
  • The greatest accumulation of straw and manure usually occurs in the bedding area. When planning your wintering site, consider several bedding areas.
  • When planning a shelter, determine where the snowmelt will occur in the bedding area. Water from melting snow should be diverted away from manured or bedded areas.


Bedding Without Straw

Calculating Fertilizer Value of Supplemental Feed for Cattle on Pasture - available in PDF format only

Cattle Wintering Sites: Managing for Good Stewardship

Livestock Wintering: Locating and Managing Your Site to Make It More Sustainable - available in PDF format only

Nutrient Loading Calculator (NLC) for In-Field or Extensive Livestock Winter Feeding Systems: information page

Remote Winter Watering Systems for Beef Cattle

Sustainable Management of Nutrients on the Landscape for In-Field Livestock Winter Feeding Systems

Stewardship and Economics of Cattle Wintering Sites - available in PDF format only

Windbreaks Provide Shelter for Cattle - available in PDF format only

Wintering Site Assessment and Design Tool - available in PDF format only

Winter Livestock Watering System

Research Papers

Nitrogen and phosphorus loss in snow melt run-off from and in-field cattle overwintering site near Lanigan, Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Nutrient export in run-off from an in-field cattle overwintering site in East-Central Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

The Effect of Cattle Winter Feeding Systems on Soil Nutrients, Forage Growth, Animal Performance and Economics - available in PDF format only

Winter feeding cattle on the Canadian Prairies: Impacts on soil nitrogen and phosphorus cycling and forage growth

Let us know of more good research papers on this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on March 24, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 13, 2016.

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