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Article
Animals and Winter
By Kim Pratt

Most barnyard animals and livestock can stand quite a bit of cold as long as they are well fed. They have been blessed by nature with a coat of hair or feathers that increases in density as mild fall weather turns into chilly winter. However there are several things to consider to keep your animals safe and comfortable. These ideas can be applied to most any livestock, weather they are featured or furry.

Provide Windbreaks

Sheds, barns, shelters or windbreaks are necessary to protect your livestock from winter wind, rain and snow. A windbreak can be as simple as a large tree. The tree should have cover, such as an evergreen pine or cedar - trees bare of leaves are not much protection. Surely a shed or barn stall would be appreciated if available. Ideally the animal should be free to go in or out of the shelter as they wish. They have a good sense of upcoming storms, and a good sense of when a tree is about to fall on the roof.

Provide Extra Feed

During a prolonged freeze or storm, animals need extra feed in order for them to provide body heat. They are using more caloric energy to produce the heat they need. Therefore the amount they are used to receiving during the warmer months may not be enough for colder weather.

Watch Your Water

Large water tanks should be fitted with heaters if at all possible. Although livestock will lick and eat snow, besides causing them to chill they cannot get enough to actually satisfy their water requirements. If your water tank or trough is in an area or of such a design that you cannot utilize a heater, make sure you break the ice frequently (we use an axe). In the case of a small chicken waterer, make a few trips a day with an old milk jug full of hot water to melt the ice. Make sure their water is not too hot when you are done. In the case of plastic chicken waterers, freezing water can easily burst the seams. It is better to provide waterers made of metal for strength.

Bottom Line

By paying careful attention to shelter, water and feed your animals should fare the winter well. When you tend to the morning or evening chores, spend a few moments to just stand and observe your animals to make sure your efforts have the results you are looking for.



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