When providing extra hay for your animals to stay warm make sure the hay is fresh. According to Easterwood, “using old hay for bedding can pose problems with varmints, mold, inhaled allergens, parasites, and many more.”
Most large animals should stay outside, unless they are newborns or debilitated animals. Most other large animals can withstand the coldest of temperatures.
“Babies are most adapted to being born in the spring, when temperatures are milder,” explains Easterwood. “Again, as long as they have a wind break and some cover from the rain (even if it is a shed with no sides) than they will be fine.”
When the temperature drops, it is vital to keep your animals hydrated. Proper hydration helps animals regulate their body temperature. Dehydration can cause major health problems for animals in the cold.
“One of the most frequently encountered medical problems for horses related to the cold weather is impaction colic due to a decreased consumption of water,” explains Easterwood. “Horses do not like to drink cold water, and we have studies to prove that they will drink more water if it is warmed. For this reason they use bucket warmers up north in order to prevent the water from freezing, and to keep it warm to encourage increased consumption. In most cases we do not have to go to those measures here in Texas, but some individual horses who are very opposed to cold water would benefit from those extra measures.”
“Some owners will top-dress their grain with oral electrolyte powder to encourage their horses to drink more in the winter,” notes Easterwood. “Keeping track of water consumption for their horse can give them a heads-up to impending problems if they notice a decrease.”
During the winter months keep a cautious eye on your animals, because with your help they will be able to withstand the cold months.