When working in the pet care business I met a lot of veterinarians and learned a lot about caring for animals in many different ways. Growing up on a farm and having many different types of animals along the way has also helped me learn valuable things about caring for moth farm animals, and pets. My mother worked as a veterinarian technician and from her I also learned many things a bout nutrition and proper caring for animals. Of all my years working with animals the most important thing I think I have learned is proper nutrition for animals. Whether big or small all animals need proper nutrition to thrive in any climate, but winter can be especially hard on an animal. The cold is not the only thing that animals have to fight. Sickness, malnourishment, sore joints, injuries, and falls are also more common in winter months, therefore proper winter nutrition is very important.
For larger animals the change to winter is much more detrimental to nutrition than to smaller animals that remain on a more constricted diet. Cattle, horses, pigs, llamas, and chickens all have varied nutrition in spring, summer, and fall. They have grass, roots, wild vegetables, and other green food when it is available, however when snow is on the ground they loose those items to eat. Most people will feed their animals hay and grains in the winter, but this sudden change from green foods and grains, to just hay and grains can be hard on your animals. They can sometimes become constipated, get the scours, begin coughing, or even become very ill because of this change. Some animals deal with this change much better than others, but as an animal lover myself, I don’t like to take the chance.
Good things to do when you know you are about to face this change is to begin adding some fresh, frozen, or even unsalted/unsweetened canned fruits and vegetables to their food. Carrots, apples, ears of corn, and cabbage are good ideas. Begin giving them a variation of these items 2-3 times a week for a while, and then once a week for a few weeks, and make the change less severe on their digestive system. Adding animal vitamins to the grains are also a great idea to help them fight wintertime ailments. Vitamins can replace the fruits and vegetables in some ways that are lost when winter comes, but do not help with constipation and scours so these things may need extra help. Making sure they stay warm and have shelter from the severe weather will also help them stay healthy in the winter time.
Other good things to do would be to know how to properly prepare horses hooves in the winter to keep them safe and comfortable. Also be sure to still provide sufficient amounts of water in wintertime, as larger animals still need plenty of water to stay healthy even when the weather is cooler. Also make sure you keep track of any changes that happen in your animals. Any odd behavior should be checked out by a vet as some animals can become stressed during the change.