11 ways to prep animals for winter | Living the Country Life
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11 ways to prep animals for winter

As colder weather creeps in, it's your job to make sure your animals are warm, safe, and cared for. Here are some tips for getting your furry, feathered and finned friends ready for winter!
  • Build huts for your goats

    Goats don't need an air-tight shelter, but they do need protection from the cold. A three-sided portable hut provides a happy medium. Floor drafts are a goat's worst enemy, but if fresh air comes in the top and mixes with warmer air before hitting the ground, that's fine. The huts can also be turned as needed to face away from the wind. Make sure there's plenty of room for goats to hunker down in, and if you can, let them in the barn at night.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Tuck goats and sheep in

    Bedding is very important for keeping sheep and goats warm and dry in the winter. Wood shavings or sawdust are absorbent, but expensive. Straw may be your best bet, since it forms a nice mat. Shredded newspaper is another option. 

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Cold-weather horse care

    The cold wind and snow take a big toll on horses' bodies. For every degree the temperature falls below 30 degrees F., they require about one percent more energy. So if it drops from 30 to 20 degrees, they'll need two to four pounds of extra hay to maintain their weight. Feed them high quality grass hay, and have plenty of fresh water available. Let stabled horses outside often to keep them from getting too bored and help prevent respiratory diseases, and make sure outside horses have protection from the wind.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Prepare your horses' hooves

    It's hard for people to walk across a sheet of ice, even with the proper footwear. Horses have two more legs to worry about, and all four hooves are vulnerable to injury. They can slip on ice, and the snow can pack into a painful ball under their hooves. Learn whether or not you should shoe your horses, and see what you can do to give them extra traction.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Keep an eye on cattle

    Cattle are used to being outside in the winter, but their systems can become stressed by wet and cold conditions, leading to health problems and weight loss. Adverse conditions demand that cattle producers keep a close watch on their animals for signs of winter stress.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Keep chickens cozy

    Caring for chickens during the winter might sound tricky, but they're tough. With plenty of food, water, and a cozy shelter, the birds will cackle all the way to spring. The key to keeping them warm is making sure their coop is dry. Let them outside on sunny days, even if it's snowy. As long as they have a warm, dry coop to come back to, they'll enjoy a little time outdoors.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Enjoy eggs all winter

    Many hens stop or slow down egg production during the winter. The shorter days and cooler temperatures tell their bodies it's time to rest. If you want your chickens to keep laying eggs all winter, you'll have to provide supplemental light. Learn which kind of light is best, where to put it, and how long to leave it on, and see how you should adjust your chickens' feed to boost winter egg production.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Protect your pets this winter

    Just because they have fur doesn't mean your cats and dogs can tolerate the cold. Cats will often seek warmth by cuddling up with a toasty vehicle engine, so pound on the hood and clear out any cats before you turn the key. Cold isn't the only danger pets face. Pay attention to the type of antifreeze and salt/de-icer you use, since they can be hazardous or even deadly to dogs and cats. There are pet-friendly options available.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Snuggle bunnies!

    Your rabbits will need a warm place to stay during the winter. If you can move their hutch into a garage or barn, that's probably a good idea. Give them a nice blanket of hay to snuggle up in, and they'll be fine! Since you're outside less in the winter, your rabbits will probably be pretty lonely, so take them out to play whenever you can. If your rabbits don't have a hutch, build one now!

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Where to keep your koi

    If your koi pond is at least two feet deep, you may be able to leave your larger fish outside over the winter. If it's too shallow or small, the water could freeze too deep, leaving fish under the ice without enough oxygen. Bring smaller or more exotic fish inside, and put them in an aquarium or tub that can be aerated and filtered. Pumps, bubblers, or deicers in the pond may also be a good idea. Get more tips for managing ice and feeding koi in the winter:

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
  • Avoid frozen water

    Insulated livestock waterers designed for use in colder parts of the country can save hours of time (not to mention backaches!) chipping ice. Make sure your waterer is large enough for all of your animals, and keep in mind pregnant or lactating animals need more water than usual.

    Date Published: October 19, 2012
    Date Updated: October 10, 2014
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