Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 1999


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XVI December 14, 15 and 16, 1999 - Greeley, Colorado.


Anticipating and planning for winters can save farmers and ranchers money with proper snow management and windbreaks. This paper describes tools developed by the U.S. Forest Service to control wind and blowing snow. The discussion updates reviews (Jairell and Schmidt 1989, 1991) of more detailed papers listed as references, available by request to the mailing address given at the end of the paper. Additional information is also available on the Internet at

Techniques for wind screening discussed here are (1) permanent livestock protection shelters, and (2) temporary, portable windscreens. Practices to control snow accumulation are discussed under the following broad objectives:

1. Preventing snowdrifts on roads, around buildings, corrals, or inside livestock shelters. Snow fences or shelterbelts are the most common methods. Buildings and shelters can be planned and located to avoid drifts in critical locations.

2. Accumulating snow in drifts as a water source. Snow fences or shelterbelts are the most effective methods, but excavated stock ponds can be designed to enhance drift formation as a source of water.

3. Retaining snow on the ground to recharge soil water or reduce snow transport downwind. Usual methods include leaving stubble or crop residue and managing vegetation to provide roughness to protect the snow cover from erosion. Grass barriers, tree rows, fences, or snow ridges also can be used for this purpose.