Frosted windshields, white-topped mountains and a crisp breeze are staples of an intermountain winter. While the rocky mountains' beauty and staggering elevation are unmatched, our mountain valleys are famous for their long, cold winters.
For farmers and ranchers, there is no such thing as a “snow day,” which means braving the cold and snow is not optional. Only after the livestock is fed and the chores are done do icy fingers and rosy cheeks soak in the farmhouse's warmth.
Keeping your home warm throughout the winter can be challenging and expensive. Luckily, pellet stoves and heaters are efficient and cost-effective solutions that can keep your home, barns and garages comfortable all season.
Staying Warm all Winter with Pellet Stoves and Heaters
The Benefits of Pellet Stoves
Pellet stoves are a highly efficient source to warm your home. Unlike traditional wood fireplaces, these stoves burn compressed wood pellets and convert a higher percentage of the pellets into heat, resulting in lower energy costs.
A key benefit of pellet stoves is that they require little monitoring and provide consistent and controllable heat output. Unlike a traditional fireplace, pellet stoves do not need to be “stoked” with more wood. If the pellet hopper is filled, the stove will automatically feed pellets into the fire to keep your room at your desired temperature.
Pellet stoves are also compact, making them ideal even for smaller rooms. These stoves even reduce the time and effort required for maintenance by producing minimal smoke and ash.
Choosing the Right Pellet Stove or Heater
When choosing the right pellet stove or heater, you must consider your space's size, heating needs and budget. Start by considering the size and heating capacity of the stove and choose one that is appropriate for the size of your space to ensure effective heating.
Make sure you look for a stove with a high-efficiency rating. The higher the rating, the more heat you'll get from each pellet, lowering energy costs. Also, pay attention to the features and controls of the stove. Some models offer programmable thermostats, remote controls and even Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to quickly adjust and monitor the temperature anywhere in your home.
It's also worth considering the maintenance requirements of the stove. Look for a model that has easy-to-clean features and a large ash pan. This will make upkeep a breeze.
The Best Wood Pellets for Optimal Heating Efficiency
When choosing the best wood pellets for your stove, choose pellets made from high-quality woods with a high British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating, such as Woodscape Premium Wood Pellets or Timberland Heating Pellets. Woods with a high BTU have greater energy content, meaning they will produce more heat as they burn. These pellets also tend to have lower ash content, reducing the maintenance required for your stove.
Another important factor to consider is the moisture content of the pellets. The ideal moisture content is around 6-8%, which ensures optimal combustion and prevents excessive smoke and creosote buildup. It's also worth considering the pellet size and density. Ideally, you want pellets that are uniform in size and have a high density to allow for more consistent and efficient burning.
By considering these factors, you can know that you're choosing the best wood pellets for your pellet stove and can enjoy efficient and sustainable heating in your home.
Keeping Calving Barns Warm on the Farm
Why do heifers seem to pick the biggest snowbank on the property to calve? Despite our best efforts, we can’t always keep our cattle from calving in less-than-ideal conditions. Ensuring there is a warm, dry calving barn can help combat calf losses due to unpredictable winter weather.
Importance of Heating Your Calving Barn
When it comes to the health and well-being of your livestock, a warm, dry environment can help reduce calf losses, especially during the winter months. Cold weather can negatively impact calves, including problems such as frozen ears, legs and nose, or even freezing the mouth shut so the calf cannot nurse.
Frozen calves can suffer from malnutrition and are more susceptible to illnesses. Warming up frozen calves and providing a warm, dry environment for calving cows is crucial for the health and well-being of your herd.
Calving Barn Heaters
Finding a safe, reliable heater for your calving barns can help prevent cold-weather complications for new calves. Selecting a heating source with the appropriate safety features is essential to keep your livestock and barns safe while providing warmth.
Heat Storm Infrared Heaters are weatherproof, making them ideal for indoor and outdoor use. These heaters can be easily mounted to walls or ceilings to provide instant heat without harmful fumes. Another excellent option for calving barns is a Heat Storm Tradesman Heater with weather-resistant features. The Tradesman heater is designed for ground use with a safety roll cage and automatic shut-off for accidental tip-overs. Both infrared heaters provide exceptional warmth with essential safety features that make them good options for heating barns within an electrical hook-up range.
However, only some of our calving sheds are close to an electrical outlet. Buddy’s Portable Radiant Heaters utilize propane to provide heat, making them excellent options for use in distant barns or paddocks when needed. Buddy portable heaters also have emergency tip-over shut-offs, making them a safer option for use around cattle.
Barn and Livestock Safety
When it comes to heating calving barns, safety is essential. It's crucial to take precautions to ensure the safety of the animals and the barn itself. Use heaters correctly and according to manufacturer instructions. This includes providing proper ventilation and clearances from combustible materials such as dry hay or bedding. Perform regular inspections and maintenance on your heaters to ensure good condition and freedom from obstructions.
It's also essential to have a fire extinguisher nearby and to educate farm workers on how to use it in an emergency. Additionally, farmers should establish a protocol for monitoring the heaters and the barn's temperature to prevent overheating and potential fire hazards.
Keeping Garages Warm on the Farm
Keeping your farm's garage and work buildings warm can help you stay comfortable while completing farm projects. Maintain a comfortable working environment in your farm’s work areas during the winter with the proper heating solutions.
Insulation Tips for Farm Garages
Insulation is a crucial factor to consider when keeping garages or work buildings warm on your farm. Insulating structures helps retain the warmth generated inside and reduce energy costs.
One option is to use insulation batts or foam boards. These are easy to install and provide excellent insulation properties. Another critical step is to seal any gaps or cracks in the garage doors and windows. This helps prevent drafts and keeps the cold air out, ensuring a more consistent and comfortable temperature.
Garage Space Heaters
Space heaters or portable electric heaters are easy to move around and can provide targeted heat to specific areas of your garage. It's essential to choose a heater with the appropriate wattage for your building or garage size and to follow all safety precautions.
If your garage is attached to the house, utilizing your home's heating system can also help keep the garage warm. By keeping the garage door closed and ensuring that the vents are open, the warm air from the house can circulate into the garage.
Stay Warm with a Trip to IFA
Farm and ranch work doesn’t stop just because there’s snow on the ground. Keep teeth-chattering to a minimum all winter with the proper heating solutions from IFA. Start by ensuring your home is warm and cozy with a new, efficient pellet stove, and keep work comfortable with the best and safest heaters for your barn or garage.
Information for this article was provided by Dan Jensen, Category Manager, IFA Country Store. Originally published in the IFA Cooperator magazine (vol. 89, no. 4) Winter 2023.