Q: How can I be sure my goats can tolerate cold weather?
A: If you haven’t already, now is a good time to provide your goats with some preventative care. Put hands on each goat to check body condition. Check FAMACHA scores on each goat, and run fecals if indicated, to determine whether any of them require deworming. Consult your vet for information on which dewormers are safe for pregnant goats. Check each goat’s mouth for good tooth alignment and overall oral health. Goats in poor health will have trouble enduring winter, and these types of preventative checks will help you catch and treat health issues early. Depending on your breeding schedule, this may also be a good time to replenish and prepare your kidding supplies.
Walk through your barn and look for cracks or holes in walls, doors, or windows that should be repaired. Also check the roof for leaks and stability (a snow storm is NOT a good time to find out your rafters needed reinforcing). Rodents are always a problem anywhere that feed is stored, but they are also looking for warm places to spend the winter. Repair holes or cracks that may provide them with access to your feed room. Entice your barn cats to spend more time inside the barn by offering food in the area where you would like for them to frequent.
Locate and install your water deicers. The night-time temps have already dipped quite low a few times, and each new cold front brings them ever lower. Having those deicers in place now will save you from an unexpected frosty morning of breaking ice in troughs and buckets. If you use heated water buckets, go ahead and plug them in to ensure they are working properly. Use good judgement and follow all manufacturers recommendations regarding placement of such buckets and cords.
Depending on your pastures, you may or may not have needed to provide supplemental hay already, but the time is coming soon when that will be necessary. On especially cold nights, considering offering supplemental hay in addition to what you are already feeding. A working rumen generates heat and helps goats stay warm and regulate their body temperatures in cold weather.
The best way to ensure your goats can tolerate winter is to provide preventative care. Healthy goats that have draft-free shelter and adequate, quality food, tolerate East TN winters quite well.
What special steps do you take to prepare your goats for winter weather?
This post is part of a Q & A series on livestock care tips. Click here for more posts in this series.
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