Shelter animals against extreme cold
14 July 2021 | Agriculture
Under extreme winter conditions farmers may have to take additional precautions to protect their animals from the cold
The following are some recommendations and suggestions to protect for farmers to protect their animals by Wildlife Vets Namibia and published in the Namibia Agricultural Union’s newsletter.
Firstly, make sure animals are in good body condition before the winter. Animals in poor body condition start utilising their fat reserves as a source of energy.
“Fat also has an important insulation function. Animals in poor condition thus not only have minimal body reserves, but they also have no physical protection against the cold. Livestock in good body condition can handle winter weather and extreme conditions better than smaller or weaker animals.”
It is important to ensure sufficient and accessible supply of good quality food to provide the animals with nutrients to maintain body temperature and survive cold temperatures.
The article suggests that ideally provided ideally hay/roughage be provided.
“Providing this food in the late afternoon will stimulate rumen microbes digest hay to provide the ruminant with nutrients while fermentation in the rumen produces at no energy expenditure for the animal heat to protect your animals.”
Furthermore, it says that animals’ water consumption increases because of elevated metabolic rates necessary to maintain warmth.
“Make sure water is clean, free of ice, and in adequate supply. To minimise heat loss avoid keeping animals in wet, muddy kraals. Proper plumbing and maintenance should minimise water leakage. If there are muddy areas around water troughs, consider installing proper drainage and/or making use of soil/gravel filling.”
The article also suggests sheltering animals from the wind.
“Trees, land windbreaks, other natural weather barriers and constructed shelters will assist in blocking winds. These protected areas should provide all animals enough space to lie down safely without being trampled or smothered.”
It adds that bedding should be kept as dry and clean as possible to avoid increased ammonia fumes which can irritate the respiratory lining of livestock thereby increasing susceptibility to pneumonia.
During extreme cold spells animals should be monitored often, specifically younger animals.