Taking care of livestock in the winter is where the men are separated from the boys. Well below freezing temperatures, deep snow, ripping winds, frozen water...these are some of the challenges winter brings. Living in north central Massachusetts, we get the snow and frigid subzero temperatures, so winter is real around here. I get asked a lot about how we care for our animals in the cold months, as it seems to be a concern for people new to keeping livestock. When it comes to the goats, there really are two things that are of the upmost importance: they need to be dry and in as draft free of an area as possible. They can handle the coldest of temperatures as long as they are dry, their bedding is dry, and they have protection from drafts.
While my goats are spoiled rotten with their organic/soy free/non gmo feed, organic second cut hay, and constant doting, I consider myself to be pretty old school when it comes to animal husbandry. I am a firm believer that animals were built to handle inclement weather. They have thick coats, snuggle to stay warm, and as ruminants their fermenting bellies act like internal space heaters. So, this means no heat lamps or additional heat sources in the barn. Now not saying these couldn't or shouldn't be used in life or death situations. But, these supplemental heat sources throw their bodies out of whack and make it difficult for them to self regulate with constant exposure. Not to mention the extreme danger of a fire. I have been known however to wake up 1-2 times in the middle of the night when we have real bad cold snaps (like last year when it was -20F+ for weeks on end) to suit up and go check on the girls. So, what do I do to keep our herd going throughout the cold months? Read on friends.
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