Wind is not your friend in the winter. Every blast of cold air strips the heat right off you. On top of heat loss it is very unpleasant. It is one of the things that makes me want to stay South in the Winter. As winter approaches wind will become a factor for cattle. I cannot speak for cattle, but my guess is wind is no fun for them either. This is especially true if they are exposed for any period of time.
Obviously a wind barrier is a necessity. This is an obvious point. What is less obvious are some tips to get the most out of barriers. Accordingly, barriers can be set up in such a way that they are not performing in a way that is completely protecting your herd. This could have detrimental effects on your cattle.
Make sure to avoid spaces between wind barriers. This can actually funnel air making it colder for your cattle. It would be awful to think you are helping the herd but in reality you are making them colder. You also have to account for the varying effects barriers will have on your grazing areas. If you are using trees and shrubs as makeshift natural barriers watch the gaps between cover. Make sure to keep cattle away from these areas.
If wind is blasting against a barrier, then the area being shielded is going to be warmer with less moisture loss. If this condition persists it may usher in an opportunity to plant sooner. If wind is not present a different scenario arises. The generally shaded cool areas behind the barrier will be colder than open areas. Again, something to consider. Remember, more heat loss by cattle means more food cost for energy.
Cattle Is Not The Only Risk
Consistent winter winds drain moisture from the soil at an increased rate. As the soil gets cooler it can block nutrients from cow manure and urine from fertilizing the soil beneath it. This could effect your vegetation growth in spring and increase your costs. Wind can also erode your soil. This damage to your future foraging plan will cost you money. It is well worth the investment to have a wind barrier plan.
Hybrid Barrier System Plan Checklist
Cost is a factor when raising cattle. A long term plan to use natural organic barriers like trees, shrubs, and terrain is a good strategy to cover lots of territory. Man made wind barriers are great to fill in the gaps where cold air could potentially funnel. Watch wind patterns and clear days to make sure your shaded areas are not actually colder than open areas with no wind. Finally, adjust the flow of cattle grazing to keep them out of open areas or funnel zones where the temperature can be unpleasant.