Protection from wind and snow is essential for heifers housed outdoors in dry lot, mound or pasture systems. Without this protection, cold temperatures and environmental conditions can take a toll on heifer growth, and in some cases, health. Joe Harner, an extension engineer from Kansas State University, provides these tips for building windbreaks.
Harner says, as a general rule-of-thumb, a windbreak will protect an area 10 times the height of the windbreak. In addition, the snow-dump area is four times the windbreak height. So, for a windbreak 10 feet tall, the protected area extends 100 feet from the fence, and snow will be captured within 40 feet of the fence. He advises to avoid solid fences for windbreaks. Solid fences create wind turbulence near the fence and encourage snow to dump against the windbreak. In severe blizzards, heifers will move closer to the windbreak to get more protection and may suffocate in the snow if a solid fence is used. To prevent snow dumping and wind turbulence, Harner recommends that 20 percent of the fence be open space. For example, if the windbreak is built from 2-inch x 6-inch lumber, leave a gap of 0.75 to 1 inch between boards to provide open space.
Source: Dairy Calf and Heifer Association