Care for Farm Animals in the Winter
Farm animals have to survive outside in cold weather, how do they cope?
Winter survival for different types of farm birds can be tricky, most do alright with a shelter bedded in straw. Birds that are native to colder climates do not require too much additional care, other than to be sure they have fresh drinking water and extra food.
Ducks should have their swimming area removed, or covered, or they may try to swim and will freeze their feet after leaving the water.
Birds who are not native to colder climates may need to be kept in a warmer barn, garage, or such, for the winter, or a coop with a lightbulb to prevent a chill. Peacocks, and Pheasants, with long tails must be kept warm as if the blood in the tails freezes, the birds will die!
Large Farm Animals
Larger farm animals, such as cattle, horses, donkeys, bison, and so forth, are pretty tough. Some people do not even provide them with shelter, but this really is harsh, as they really should have some way to escape cold winter winds. A shelter (bedded with straw), or even forest, is a basic requirement for these farm animals.
As well these farm animals need fresh drinking water, and extra food for winter months.
Sheep and Goats
Sheep and goats require special winter care, particularly hair sheep, and goats.
Goats have poor tolerance of wind, and cold, and should be kept in a barn at night, and have good shelter on colder days. Hair sheep may need to be kept in a barn on cold nights, and of course all need access to a shelter even during the day.
One other concern is that these animals have a tough time getting through deep snow, so paths should be made for them to get to their shelter, water, and feeding areas.
Pregnant and Nursing Animals
Pregnant and nursing animals need extra feed, plenty of fresh water, and should be kept indoors at night (particularly when close to their due date).
Being indoors is important for many reasons:
*The smell of blood (when a baby animal is born) will attract predators.
*The newborn will be wet and can quickly freeze in cold weather.
*If there is a problem, it is easier to tend to the animal if it is indoors.
After delivery (and depending on temperatures and space in a barn) the mother and her little one(s) should be kept in a stall together for a day or more, to allow for bonding, and so the keeper can make sure she has plenty to eat and drink, as well the keeper can check to be sure the little one(s) are nursing properly.
It is also worth noting that after delivery a mother animal is often very thirsty, so she should be given a good drink of fresh water.
Other Notes and Links
Be aware of frost bite, animals ears are of particular risk.
Livestock should not be forced to eat snow. Since snow is mostly air an animal must eat a lot to meet their water requirements, and this will chill their body.
The barn, and shelters, should be well bedded with straw, and cleaned regularly (especially the birthing areas).
The barn does not need to be heated, when animals are in the barn their body heat will warm it, and the barn will keep out the chill of the wind. If a barn is over heated it may stress the animals when going from a hot barn, to a cold outside. - However heat lamps may be needed for short terms to warm up baby animals. You will note that regular (old style) light bulbs do create some heat.
Nightlights may be put in the barn, and turned on at night.
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