Many ranchers who stockpile grass or swaths to feed during the winter months have one great fear: deep, crusted snow that cows can’t punch through.
In some areas, such as the northern Rocky Mountains, ranchers have tried driving a tractor or even dragging a field cultivator over the crusted snow to open it up. But that involves time, fuel and the need to start a tractor in cold weather.
The cheapest solution, ranchers there have found, is to agree to winter some of the area’s numerous outfitter horses with their herds. The horses can be had for free, and they can paw down through snow to get to the forage.
“One horse per 10 cows will break enough snow so that the cows can get in and graze,” said Gerrish.