Environmental Services Director
North Dakota is known for many things. While most of them are positive, being no. 1 for wind is not. This month, let’s visit about windbreaks — integral components of feedlots in our state that provide animals comfort and help them perform their best during our cold and windy winter weather.
Natural windbreaks are usually the best option; however, as we all know, it takes several years for a shelterbelt to get established. In order to be effective, natural windbreaks, of course, must be planted in the right location, and the prevailing wind direction and any possible future feedlot expansion need to be taken into consideration in order to determine what the “right” location will be now and years from now. Producers must also remember to set back the location of their pens to accommodate the trees’ future mature height.
Windbreaks made of wood are still utilized, although the lifespan of these windbreaks needs to be taken into consideration when making a purchase decision.
Metal windbreaks come in a few different options. Those with vertical sheets require you to add purlins to connect the sheets. Horizontal metal windbreaks, such as “super steel,” have become very popular. Super steel is sturdy enough to act as perimeter fencing and wind protection.
People often ask about the pros and cons of constructing windbreak inside pens versus having windbreak that doubles as a perimeter fence. Certainly, utilizing windbreak for both is cheaper on a cost-per-foot basis; however, having a place to bed cattle inside pens is an advantage of the other option. Another plus of having windbreak inside the pens is that the cattle can utilize both sides of it for protection and, if it is portable, it is easy to move and to clean the area around it more frequently.
For those considering permanent windbreak options, remember to consider where the runoff from your pens will drain before you start constructing them.
A while back, NDSA President Warren Zenker was at Napoleon Livestock and telling Ray Erbele and Jody Horner that he was going to go on a diet.
Warren confessed, “The closest I’ve been to a diet so far this year is erasing the food searches from the browser history on my computer!”