As the temperatures drop animals are clearly more comfortable and active than in the heat. We know that before long the winter winds will be blowing and our animals are more comfortable if we help them adapt.
Sheds and coops that are typically cleaned once or twice per year should be cleaned and bedded. Provide a clean, dry place out of drafts is the biggest thing you can do to help your animals come through the winter in good shape. A closed in barn is not necessarily the best option – good ventilation is needed to avoid respiratory issues.
Many will begin putting on heavier coats and getting “fuzzy.” Take extra care to lay hands on and insure the ribs can be felt but aren’t prominent – too heavy or too thin can compromise health.
Remember with horses if you start blanketing them you will have to maintain this all winter. Beginning the routine lessens the coat they grow – if you weary of dealing with blankets then the horse is left with not enough coat to stay warm.
Make sure your winter hay is stored in safely. Keeping their feed supply dry and in good condition can greatly affect how animals come through the winter. Additionally starting in good condition helps. Deworm animals if needed.
Sheep and goats are typically in gestation now so monitoring condition is essential to healthy, growthy and live lambs and kids come spring. Adjust rations if needed to insure proper nutrition is provided.
Get watering systems winterized for winter to insure plenty of water. Although water is often a concern in hot weather it’s also so in cold weather. Horses without adequate water can be prone to colic, and rabbits eat less so grow less. Insure water at least twice per day, preferably more often.
Most animals that are otherwise healthy can handle cold weather if dry – insure all shelters are in good condition. When temperatures fall below zero, have a way for animals to warm up. Pay special attention to animals that are sick, as well as those due with babies during cold weather.
Cold weather care need not involve drastic measures. Remember if using heaters and cords to insure those are in good shape and away from flammables as well as mouths of animals that could grab the cords.
Pets should always be brought in when the temperature dips down. Much as with blanketing horses, don’t start what you can’t finish, but bringing them into an insulated area at least gives them comfort from the cold.
Start now winterizing your home and barn, but don’t forget the livestock and pets too!