How To Keep Your Ranch Animals Healthy This Winter
As a rancher, you want to keep your animals healthy all year-round; however, during the winter, this task gets a little more difficult. Winter weather poses higher risks for the health of ranch animals and can sometimes cause them to get sick or injured. Avoid the stress of sick or hurt barn residents by making a checklist of how to keep your ranch animals healthy this winter, and you’ll rest easy at night knowing your farm is safe.
Take Extra Care To Remove Ice and Clutter
Just like how ice is dangerous for you and your ranchers, it creates unnecessary hazards for your animals too. It’s easy for hooved animals to lose traction on the ice, and even easier for them to slip and hurt themselves. For horses, a broken bone can end their entire life.
After a freeze or snow, check doorways and pastures for slick patches of frozen mud or water. Try to avoid these areas or cover them with sand—the ice you would use for a driveway may be unhealthy for your animals. Plus, don’t forget to check your horses’ hooves for ice balls and pick them out.
Watching how much clutter builds up around your property is important every month of the year, but during the winter months, it becomes a crucial step of your checklist. If snow covers any of your tools or materials it can injure you or your animals in an instant. Put things where they belong and do a sweep for debris after every thaw.
Make Sure Your Animals Eat and Drink
One of the ways ranch animals stay warm during the winter is by eating more. To handle an extra intake of food and counter the dry winter air, they need to drink more water as well. Make sure you bulk up your feeding schedule during the winter, especially if you keep your animals working during the cold. Horses in particular need the right nutrition that’s based on their wintertime jobs.
Some animals get picky when it comes to their water supply. If you’re struggling to get your ranch animals to drink water, it may be too cold or icy for them. Provide your animals with a heated water supply or a moving water supply to keep them hydrated.
Separate Sick Animals
Even if you follow all the right advice for how to keep your ranch animals healthy this winter, you may end up with an animal or two that come down with a cold. Make sure to separate any animals that get sick in a well-ventilated area. You may think the vents make the stable cold, but without proper ventilation, the barn can fall prone to mold or bacteria buildup—and more illness. Always keep a veterinarian’s phone number on hand in case the illness worsens.