Livestock burn energy trying to keep warm in the winter months. Keeping an adequate food and water supply, therefore, is essential to these animals maintaining good health and proper weight. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures and the staggering amount of the food that needs to be kept available can make keeping livestock healthy this winter seem overwhelming.
Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-true ways to ensure your livestock remains healthy throughout even the harshest of winters.
Make water a priority
The most important part of any livestock management program is to provide clean water – and a constant source of it. It is a mistake to believe that breaking the frozen crust from watering troughs a few times a day will do the job. The truth is, water must be available at all times. Cattle, for example, need at least 14 gallons each day. It also is important to keep the temperature of water in mind. Water that is below 37 degrees will lower body temperatures. In such cases, instead of maintaining weight, energy will be spent generating body heat. A tank heater is a wise – and affordable – investment in light of this fact.
Manage changes in feed requirements
The feed consumption of livestock increases significantly over the winter and meeting the nutritional requirements of animals is critical to their health. It is vital to provide the right grains, hay blends, mineral blocks, and more. Since winter feed is offered in such large quantities, this can become labor intensive and costly. Automating the process can help tremendously and also helps to prevent waste. A hay feeder is one such example. Hay feeders are an outstanding way to provide hay to livestock while minimizing waste. Livestock such as cattle or horses can waste more than half of a round bale as they tear it apart while eating. With a round bale feeder, most of what is dropped stays inside the ring, preventing it from being trampled and spoiled.
Provide adequate shelter
Shelter is a must have for livestock during the winter. While most kinds of livestock do not need to be kept in stalls all day, it is important that they have shelter if they want it. A three-sided shed or open barn is good for horses, cattle, sheep, and other types of livestock because it offers shelter from wind, rain and snow. Shelters should always be large enough so that animals aren’t overcrowded.
Providing adequate water, food and shelter is imperative to keeping livestock healthy this winter. Amenities such as tank heaters and hay feeders help to keep costs down and improve quality of life for livestock during the cold weather.