Care for Farm Animals in the Winter

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 19th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Farm Animals

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.

Our Sheep Blog

How Much More Food do Pets Need in Winter

Advantages of Hair Sheep

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Alberta, Animals, Birds, Care, Cold, Donkey, Ducks, Farm, Fowl, Frost Bite, Hair Sheep, Lambs, Livestock, Llama, Nursing, Outdoor, Outside, Pets, Pregnant, Sheep, Snow, Winter

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
19th Jan 2011 (#)

Hey Mark...last paragraph. "Heat lambs"/ Did you mean heat "lamps"? Otherwise, you did a fantastic job of informing as always.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
19th Jan 2011 (#)

dang.. I will fix, hanging heat lambs is not a good idea!

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author avatar TNT_Brian
19th Jan 2011 (#)

This was a great article to read, thanks for posting it Mark. We had horses when i was a kid and we left them out during the winter but they had plenty of woodland for shelter and lots of food and water

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author avatar christopheranton
19th Jan 2011 (#)

One thing I can remember, from when I was
young, is the great excitement of the cows
when they were let out in the spring,
after spending winter in a barn.
They used to almost do somersaults.

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author avatar Denise O
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Nope, we don't want heated lambs.LOL
Love the pictures Mark and wonderful advice that all should follow.
The babies are so darn cute!
Great job as always.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Barbara10Broek
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Very great information. Some times people need to be reminded about their pets also.

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author avatar marian
20th Jan 2011 (#)

. . .hmmmm. ..thanks for sharing. . .luv it. ..

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author avatar Retired
20th Jan 2011 (#)

What another great article.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
20th Jan 2011 (#)

In the picture that I have labled "Our Sheep" the one at the front is a hair sheep - no wool- she had triplets about a week after this picture was taken, their pictures are on the Sheep Blog link.
I am bottle feeding one lamb.

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author avatar Greenfaol
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Aw, lambs are so cute. i remember when we had them - and goat kids!! Really excellent article, excellent points made. Thanks for that :D

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author avatar zed
21st Jan 2011 (#)

loads of information as always. thanks for that :)

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author avatar Diane Ziomek
23rd Feb 2011 (#)

Great article! We have a couple of steers who take shelter in the barn, and two horses who have bales and trees as a windbreak. I am looking forward to our Alberta winter to be over so we can get busy and do some fencing and shelter building. My daughter and I really want to get some alpacas this summer.

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author avatar Mikey.
15th Mar 2012 (#)

Great stuff Mark. We have hens and roosters they sure get up early crowing at all hours five on.
I make chicken coops to order for people and supply chickens as well, Only as a hobby though.I got a full time job in a quarry.Our climate is reasonably mild south west coast of Ireland.Co Kerry .

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
17th Jan 2013 (#)

Yes this is so informative and very interesting Mark. It is good to hear that some people really care for all their you obviously do
bless you

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author avatar Phellie
25th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks Mark in my country we don't have winter but i was just concern about the animals in winter and am happy that now i know.

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