Martok
January 11, 2010

The proper living and food arrangements are necessary to keep your animals warm and safe during the cold months
Photo by Sue Weaver

This morning at 7 a.m., Uzzi and I looked at the thermometer and it was two degrees below zero, Fahrenheit! We live in northern Arkansas where it’s not supposed to get this cold.

We have a comfy Port-a-Hut to live in, with nice warm, chopped straw bedding, good food, and buckets of warm water to drink twice a day, but still, we shiver when we venture outdoors.

Animals need shelter from the snow and wind and extra food when it’s freezing outside. For livestock (and goats like me and Uzzi) that means extra hay, not a lot more grain. Hay generates more heat and doesn’t upset our tummies the way oodles of extra grain can do.

And we need drinking water so we don’t get dehydrated, too. Buckets of warm water carried from the house are especially nice. Our horses drink from an outdoor trough with a submersible tank heater.

Imbir’, Mom’s gelding, has a warped sense of humor, so he grabs the cord with his teeth and pulls it out and drops it on the ground (the other horses ought to bite Imbir’s butt). Mom wraps the cord around the fence to thwart him. Usually that works. Silly horse!

Extra blankets and hay are perfect for creating warm living conditions
Photo by Sue Weaver

She also puts special waterproof, windproof blankets called turnout rugs on Dyan and Maire when they need them. They’re old, retired race horses and vulnerable in the cold.

Baby lambs and kids born this time of year need extra warmth too, but please don’t hang a heat lamp in your barn! Mom knows of two instances when heat lamps burned down barns and killed the sheep and goats they were supposed to protect.

If you use them, be extra careful, don’t hang them by their cords and make sure they’re at least three feet away from combustible materials like bedding or hay. It’s better to blanket baby animals born this time of year. Dog sweaters work or you can make your own lamb and kid sweaters if you know how to knit. Or make them out of sweat shirt sleeves or sweat pants legs. This Australian article shows how.

There are lots of great articles on the Internet about taking care of dogs, catshorsesgoatssheepcattle, pet pigsrabbitsllamas and alpacaschickens and even just farm animals in general. Check ‘em out. Your animals need your help to stay warm!

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