Pets and livestock need special care in winter weather. As the leaves begin to fall, begin the preparations that will keep your animals safe and comfortable through the winter cold.
Migrating birds of prey approach.
Your animals need protection from predators as the weather changes. Some animals will want to bulk up for hibernation. SOme will be arriving to make a hunting ground of your property. Hawks are a particular problem, because dogs aren’t as effective against aerial attacks and hawks are too smart for many deterrents. Consider these tricks to foil their plans and send them back to the wild to kill mice and make the grain farmers happy.
Buy a package of cheap blank compact discs. Attach a string and hang them from branches around the property. They will flash in the sunlight and likely startle approaching hawks. Your animals won’t mind them at all.
Break your patterns. If you normally let your chickens free range, rearrange the schedule. Keep them penned until late noon. Less free ranging time is better than shorter life.
Be sure your poultry houses are closed at night. This keeps predators and drafts out. Close up any chinks necessary, but don’t forget that your birds do still need ventilation, or illness may strike.
Clean your chicken house and pens thoroughly. Better now than in the cold of winter. Put in layers of clean shavings or pine straw, whichever you prefer.
Make sure outdoor dogs have housing. Lay in plenty of bedding. Straw is quite warm, as is pine shavings. Close up any chinks and consider adding a plastic flap to the door to help seal out draughts.
Does your older dog need additional cover? Buy a sturdy, quilted blanket. Add soft bedding. Consider placing a comfortable bed in front of your fire or other heat source. Remember, old dogs have trouble maintaining body heat.
When feeding, think quality over quantity. Keep in mind that dogs do not digest corn well. If your dog food is largely corn based, feeding more won’t make the difference. Increase the fat content to help your dog maintain body condition in cold weather.
Horses create body heat through digestion. Make sure they have plenty of hay to keep the internal fires stoked. For the coldest weather, they may need double the normal amount. If you blanket, make sure you layer or that the blanket is warm enough. Some believe any extra coverage is better than none. Not so. If you cover the coat, it will lay flat rather than standing out and creating air pockets of warmth. If you can’t blanket adequately, your horses are better off using their own coats and internal heaters.
If possible, give your horses a sturdy three sided shelter. Wind and wet steal heat. A shelter offers protection, especially if faced to cut the prevailing wind. If nothing else, provide a wall of trees or just a standing wall. The horses can choose which side to stand on.
Much like horses, goats create heat through digestion and stand off coats. Provide them with a warm shelter. Keep in mind that predators may come calling. If you have adequate fencing, lean-to shelters may do the trick, but better to provide full coverage. For small breeds, dogloos work quite well.
Pot bellies, to be specific, but the rules apply to all. Make sure they have adequate shelter, if outdoors. Provide shavings or straw. On the coldest of nights, your pot bellied pigs will appreciate coming indoors. They housebreak quite easily and would love to enjoy a spot before the fire (Pigs4Ever.com).
If possible, remember the wild birds in winter weather. They provide interest to the landscape and some even fend off approaching hawks.
Pigs4Ever.com. Litter Box and Potty Training