Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Livestock and Cold Weather

The biggest chill factor for livestock when the weather turns cold believe it or not isn't the temperature, it is the wind. God gave animals the design (fur coats, feathers, down etc.) to survive the cold. However, the problem with livestock is that because we have them confined to certain areas they can no longer rely on the instincts that God gave them to seek shelter from the wind. A cold blowing wind will chill an animal, just as it does us. So what should we do for our animals when the temperature plummets and those winter winds start blowing. The simply answer is to give them some sort of shelter to get out of the wind. For our horses they have their stalls. If they aren't locked in their individual stalls you will often find all three of them in the same stall. All of our animals have some sort of shelter from the wind, even though the barns themselves are cold. The goats will huddle together in their one big stall and the rabbits have walls around them so that they can huddle down in their hay and no wind blows directly on them. Another good thing for livestock is to feed them. Hay is a great source of heat to feed. The very digestion of the hay causes their metabolic temperature to rise thus providing them heat from the inside. High caloric grains can also help, like corn. However, be careful about introducing something like corn too quickly as doing so causes problems in and of itself. During the cold winter nights I always put my livestock to bed with piles of hay to munch on during the night if they wish. This helps to keep them warm. Remember the biggest killer is wind because wind chills, so give them shelter from the wind and the rest will take care of itself. If you have big drafty opening in your barn some well placed tarps will help keep the wind off of the animals. One end of our horse barn is open and all the horse stalls are on the other end. So I tarp the side of the stalls that faces the openings. This doesn't close up the doorway so that it can't be used, but it provides a windbreak so that the side that the horses are on stays draft free. Really, it is as simple as that. Stop the wind, stop the chill. Blessings, Kat

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