Fauquier Large Animal Veterinary Services, LLC (FLAVS)

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 Tips & Resources


Tips for Caring for Animals in Cold Weather (from Jim Hilleary, Loudoun County Extension Agent)

Livestock (cows, goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas, pigs, etc)

º WATER. Can your animals locate and walk to their water source and if yes, is the water drinkable?

º ENERGY REQUIREMENTS. Sheep, cattle, and goats, will create internal body heat through rumination. In severe weather, they will require additional food. Like access to water, they have to be able to reach their food.

º FEEDING. Related to energy requirements, feeding becomes more critical when livestock and recreation animals cannot get through snow to reach the grass below.

º BODY CONDITION. Fat is good in severe weather, if you know of animals in your herd/flock who are thin they are most susceptible to cold weather injury.

º SHELTER. Best if you have it for your animals although more so for some breed than others. Goats and horses more so than cattle but even cattle should have access to areas where standing trees or terrain will serve as wind breaks.

º SNOW AND MUD MANAGEMENT. Tractor turf tires are great on estate farms most of the time but they won’t work well at all in snow or mud. In some conditions even Ag tires, like turf tires, will need chains. Allow time to put the chains on and put them on tight. Consider using tensioners.

 HEALTH CONCERNS (Livestock). Farm life is such that many producers have at least one doe, ewe, or Mama-cow that is going to deliver during the snow storm. Pay attention to those likely and try to be available when it happens. Stock up on towels to dry new borns and have heat lamps or warming spaces available.


º Most of us work hard every day but we do not “train”, think about your heart health when you set to the task of clearing snow.

º Let others know when you are working outside and when, also when you expect to be back in the house.

º Layer your clothing so you can cool down as needed. Hypothermia is a real concern even in Loudoun.

º Communicate with your helpers when your moving equipment, hooking up implements, or troubleshooting the tractor that won’t start. Don’t become a tractor accident casualty.

º Tractors: back up steep hills, look for low power lines if moving snow in a front bucket, and know where that bridge starts and stops before it’s covered under snow.

Horses and other equines

º Water is the most essential nutrient for horses. A safe and adequate water supply should be provided free choice 24/7. Horses require at least 7 to 10 gallons of water per day to avoid adverse health effects such as dehydration and colic. Prevent access to frozen ponds as horses may fall through ice seeking water. Streams should not be counted on as a sole water source. If using tank heaters or de-icers, ensure they are functioning properly. Make sure you have a back up plan if there is a loss of electricity or pipes freeze. Wells cannot pump water, electric de-icers will not work, and some automatic water troughs will not work without power.

º Hay and feed are critical to meet nutrient and energy requirements and a supply of at least two weeks should be on hand and stored properly to avoid rodents and moisture damage. Hay is important to provide fiber necessary for a healthy digestive system and helps keep horses warm through hindgut fermentation. Hay should be provided free choice in most circumstances. Hay should be fed under cover to prevent moisture damage and molding. Maintain a regular feeding schedule and do not change feeds abruptly, as this can disrupt digestion and cause colic.

º Power and electricity loss should be planned for. It is ideal to have a back up generator available to provide electricity. Be aware of carbon monoxide toxicity from running generators and propane heaters. Extra fuel should be on hand to power generators and heaters. All people on farm should know how to turn off water, electricity and other utilities in case of bursts pipes, power outages and fire hazards. Car chargers should be available to charge cell phones. Cell phones may not work in severe storms so prepare for communication loss.

º Fencing may be damaged from downed trees and wind. Materials and supplies to repair fences and temporary fence materials should be on hand to contain horses.

º Facilities should be prepared by removing dangerous tree branches or debris that could potentially injure humans, animals or buildings prior to winter weather.

º Shelter should be provided to protect horses from wind and precipitation. If horses are kept in stalls, a plan should be in place to clear snow and debris for adequate exercise for stabled horses. Plan to have enough bedding for at least a few weeks. Run in sheds should provide enough room to safely house the number of horses in a paddock or field. If the shelter is natural (trees, woods, etc) make sure there are no safety concerns such as dead limbs that might fall.

º Turnout blankets are usually not necessary for horses unless they are clipped or do not have adequate shelter. If turnout blankets are used, they should fit properly and horses should be checked daily to make sure they are not rubbing or wet underneath. Only use waterproof turnout blankets.

º Veterinary supplies should be on hand for emergencies and routine care. Discuss emergency care with your veterinarian should they not be able to access the farm due to impassable road conditions.


Lyme Disease   https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html

Lyme Disease: A Pet Owner's Guide  https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/lyme-disease.aspx

Warm Weather Pet Safety   https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Warm-Weather-Pet-Safety.aspx
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