Beginners Guide to Cold Weather Livestock Care
With winter comes adjustments, whether you have two legs or four. Everyone has to brace themselves for the lower temperatures and snowfall that creep up around these next few months. Although you can take care of yourselves, your animal friends might need an extra hand (who knew opposable thumbs could be so useful?). Here’s a guide on how to take care of your livestock through the winter!
Keeping your livestock hydrated is important. Don’t rely on eating snow and licking ice to keep them going. It won’t be enough and, more importantly, it will lower their core temperature, which can be dangerous to their health. In order to keep your water supply drinkable, use tanks and monitor the temperature so that it remains at about 37 degrees Fahrenheit. No one has time (or the desire) to carry fresh buckets of water multiple times a day to livestock when it’s freezing out. If the temperatures begin to freeze, don’t hesitate to get a water de-icer to keep water tanks from freezing over. It’s a wonderful investment! For chickens, try using a heated dog bowl to keep their water from freezing.
Extra Tip: Be sure to keep the tanks clean as well with products such as Stock Tank Secret that can help you get the job done with ease!
The cold, snowy winter months are enough to make anyone hungry. However, fancy feedings aren’t necessary to keep your livestock’s tummies full and hooves dancing. Keeping plenty of roughage, or hay, available to your cattle and horses is essential to their warmth.
Feeding your livestock individually can be a great way to keep tabs on how each animal is doing. It will give you a better read on their health and appetite. However, if you don’t have the time or staff to do this then feeding bales to groups of animals works as well. The danger here is that some animals will either overlook their ration, wasting nearly half of it, or will consume more than they are meant to. As much as we all like to binge a little extra in the colder months, it’s important to make sure your livestock is eating appropriately. One way to make sure every animal is correctly fed is to divide animals into groups based on their needs. For example, pregnant animals must eat correctly to ensure their offspring is healthy and should be fed separately. To make the job easier, find feed that can apply to multiple varieties of animals at once, such as Nutrena Country Companion. Don’t forget to keep minerals as part of your livestock’s regular diet. Horses and cattle do well with salt blocks while salt crumbles are suggested for sheep and goats.
Extra Tip: Make sure your poultry are well fed this winter by introducing Nutrena Naturewise Feed into their diets!
They might not need to snuggle up by the fire with a cozy blanket, but livestock also require breaks from the wind and cold weather elements. If fed correctly, most livestock can endure the low temperatures. However, it’s still a good idea to provide shelter for your animals, with adequate room so overcrowding doesn’t occur. If you do provide additional shelter for your livestock, be careful not to let any dirty bedding linger for too long. Change out the straw and shavings regularly. The build up could transmit illnesses to the animals. Find the best bedding for your horses online or stop by your local Runnings store to speak to a livestock specialist.
Extra Tip: Help ensure your horses stay comfortable no matter where they are staying this winter by giving them Manna Pro’s hoof supplement for increased hoof strength.
Last but not least, keep your livestock healthy as a horse– unless your horses aren’t doing so well in which case you might want to pay extra attention here. Wintertime can bring a wide array of health concerns that don’t occur as frequently in the warmer months. Be sure that your livestock is exercising to avoid obesity and overgrown hooves. Exercise will also boost your livestock’s muscular and skeletal health, which can deteriorate quickly if left unmonitored. Keep some disinfectant at hand for any tools or materials that come into contact with your livestock, particularly if a virus is going around. You can also support your livestock’s health with supplements and probiotics as a preventative measure.
Extra Tip: Keep your cattle safe by protecting them ahead of time with Pfizer one shot, a vaccination dedicated to preventing bovine pneumonia.
Most importantly, trust your instincts when it comes to keeping your livestock healthy and happy throughout the winter months. Now that you have the facts, it’s just a matter of doing everything you can to keep things running smoothly! Don’t forget to treat yourself at the end of it all with a nice hot chocolate– after all, your livestock isn’t the only thing that should be healthy and happy all winter long!