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Winter Warning: Horses Need to Keep Moving Print E-mail

Horses can survive, even thrive in frigid conditions – which seems contrary to conventional ‘anatomical’ wisdom since only a scant supply of blood flows to a horse’s limbs in the best of weather. So it would seem horses would not be able to perfuse enough blood to warm their legs in extremely low temperatures.

“Yet they do,” notes Earl Gaughan, DVM, and an equine surgeon and instructor in the equine hospital of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. “Horses are wonderfully adaptable animals.”

In cold weather horses need to be able to move about. By staying mobile, some equine specialists speculate, they prime the pump that assists the flow of blood through their limbs with each step. Horses housed in barns or shelters need to be turned-out to pastures and fields for regular exercise periods. Consistent turn-out scheduling with close attention to the outdoor elements, Dr. Gaughan points out, prevents horses from losing or modifying their natural abilities to cope with the cold. But they don’t have to be completely exposed. Blanketing horses is fine, though he warns dangerous entanglements can occur if the material gets caught on fencing, branches and other obstacles. Also, horses can become too warm if temps rise while the animals are working up a sweat during their limited time outdoors.

Animal Tails Winter Horse

“The challenge is to keep them supplied with drinkable water and enough food and to encourage them to move about to find it.”

Wool Coats Not Always Enough For Sheep In Cold Weather Print E-mail

Managing mature sheep and goats in winter usually doesn’t differ much from routine best management practices ranchers implement throughout the rest of the year. Regular observation of feed availability and body condition scores and the prevention and treatment of health problems such as internal parasites and foot rot are par for the course.

However, in very cold temperatures – and even more so in wet, freezing conditions – farmers and ranchers need to step up their routines, especially for kids and lambs, says Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri) Extension. Sheep and goats will eat more than normal in severe weather to maintain body temperature. Good quality hay or other feed should always be available.

Animal Tails Sheep Winter Cold

“Wind chill will negatively affect the babies before it will the mothers who generate more heat from the bodies.”

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