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With the previous cold snap in mind, Tripp and Olson put a variety of measures in place to ensure their animals safety. All of their animals live either completely outdoors or have access to the outdoors. Unless the animals are just born, like young chicks or piglets, the farm doesn’t use any forced heat or use heat lamps. Even then, they do it with precautions. With any amount of cold, Tripp and Olson strive to ensure their animals have adequate access to shelter, dry bedding and plenty of feed and water. For the pigs in their outdoor huts, they use straw for bedding and their chickens and ducks have a deep bedding of pine shavings composted with manure that built up since last fall.

“This is sufficient to keep them warm enough through the extremely cold winter weather,” said Tripp.

Another big challenge during subzero temperatures is keeping all animals properly hydrated. Heated waterers are used for the ducks and chickens, but even those can freeze up or develop issues when temperatures are below zero for an extended period of time. Pig waterers are not heated, and are fitted with large, rubber livestock pans that they have to break the ice out of several times a day during a stretch of subzero days, like the region saw several weeks ago.

Tiffany Tripp feeds two of the sows at Graise Farm. In the summertime, the sows are able to graze in a pasture. Pictured, Rose eats feed in the foreground while Dorothy does the same in the background. (Michelle Vlasak/southernminn.Com)

The farmers’ safety is another priority, so they make sure to wear layers and wind protected coats and pants, along with wool socks and insulated waterproof boots. Tripp admits finding good gloves that keep their hands warm, but still allow them to work with their hands is still a challenge to find.

While their animals are fed twice a day, year-round, they need to check on their animals more frequently in extreme cold or extreme heat. In the winter, they check the waterers or refill them, and collect eggs periodically throughout the day before they freeze. Since they both work off-farm jobs during the week, they inevitably lose some eggs to freezing during subzero temperature days.

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