Exploring a Low-input Alternative for Watering Ewes in the Winter

1996 Annual Report for FNC96-159

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 1996: $3,195.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1999
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:

Exploring a Low-input Alternative for Watering Ewes in the Winter


“Providing water or winterin on snow has been extremely controversial amoung producers in states where watering is problematic during the winter. Because there is a lack of solid data, producers are forced to make the choice on emotion and hearsay. Many do not want to keep their sheep confined in the barnyard so they can have access to water when they could be reducing the concentration of manure. If producers were able to have mroe confidence in snow as a water source, they could also feed stockpiled forage under the snow, grazing paddocks as long as they can.”

Objectives: To compare productivity and maintenance costs between ewes that are provided ample drinking water versus ewes that have to rely on snow for their water supply. The project coordinator will divide the flock into two groups–approximately 40 head per group. Group 1 will be given access to water in the barnyard and group 2 will rely on snow as a water source.

Results: This project will be extended one year. The first year’s data revealed that the major difference between ewes that were provided drinking water and ewes that obtained their water supply from snow was the lower body condition for ewes that relied on snow.