Many people who enjoy living in the boonies like we do have quite a collection of animals. We personally have horses, mules, goats, cats, dogs, and believe it or not, my husband REALLY wants a camel.
With the cold winter months rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to share a couple of tips with everyone that will make their critters more comfortable this winter.
Make Sure Your Animal Shelters Are In Good Repair
The time to inspect your animal shelters is before there is a foot of snow on the ground. Take a few minutes and inspect the roofs for leaks before the weather is bad. It can be tricky knowing where the roofs might end up leaking. What my husband does for small shelters like dog houses and chicken coops is to wait until it gets dark and then he puts a very bright light inside the building. Then he can look at the roof and if he sees any light coming through the roof, he knows that rain will be able to get through as well. He then uses something to mark any holes that he finds and repairs them in the morning.
Warning: Don’t do what my husband does and go climbing around on the roofs of shelters at night because you will probably fall off of the edge and break your neck! To tell you the truth, I’m surprised he hasn’t yet!
Inspect Stock Tank Heaters To Make Sure They Work
Both livestock and your smaller pets need just as much water in the winter as they do in the summer. Unfortunately, a lot of animals get dehydrated in the winter time because they don’t like drinking freezing cold water. Make sure your tank heaters are working properly before it gets so cold out that you need them. Tip: The colder the water that your animals drinks, the more feed they will need to maintain their body weight.
Cover Your Winter Time Feed
Every year, thousands of tons of hay are lost to the elements because people don’t get around to covering it before it starts raining or snowing. Not having a hay barn isn’t a good excuse to let hay get wet and moldy. Hay is expensive! Tarps are not! If you don’t keep your hay covered, you should expect it to mold and moldy hay can be fatal to horses.
Inspect Horse Blankets And Repair If Necessary
Horses are amazingly resilient animals and they are capable of withstanding some very harsh conditions. This, however, doesn’t mean that they might not do better if you just kept them a little warmer. When the temperature drops, your horses will have to use more of the energy they get from the feed they are eating just to keep their body warm enough to prevent themselves from freezing to death. This means that to maintain their body weight, they will need more feed when it is cold out even though they aren’t getting as much exercise.
Many people don’t realize this and they think they can save money by not feeding as much hay and grain during the winter because they aren’t riding their horses. They are wrong but you can offset the amount of additional feed that they’ll go through during the winter if you put blankets on your horses to keep them warmer.
Make Sure Your Critters Are Current On All Of Their Vaccinations
Vaccinations were invented for a very good reason. They can and will protect your animals from diseases and getting sick. In addition to vaccinations, horses will need to be dewormed on a regular basis. Bot fly larva can be very difficult to kill off so many people recommend deworming your equine friends with a deworming paste that is formulated to kill bot fly larva after the temperatures have dropped below freezing.
Around our place, our critters are a very important part of our lives and we believe that we have an increased responsibility to keep them well cared for and warm throughout the long frigid winters here on our mountain. I hope you share these feelings with us.