Livestock and Pets Require Winter Shelter

An October 2001 article by Daniel Diss highlights what many of our clients are discovering: Windscreens provide cost-effective and efficient cold-weather protection for pets and livestock. Here are Daniel’s remarks:

Freeze damaging temperatures combined with wind drafts cause hypothermia, frostbite and all types of cold weather injuries to large animals, pets and people. Making sure adequate food, water, shelter and windbreaks are provided prevent sickness and saves money.

Early signs of cold weather diseases found in cattle and horses are not always immediately noticeable. Even with pets, it may take upward of two weeks before cold weather maladies are evident. Sudden death can also be traced to respiratory infections caused by freezing elements. Stock exposed to consistent cold wet weather with no shelter for long periods of time are prone to lower weight gains, changes in coats and less reproduction success.. The rates of morbidity and mortality increase in areas that lack dry feed and bedding. Livestock experience thermal stress where climate changes occur rapidly. All warm blooded creatures must maintain consistent body temperature to keep proper metabolic processes. Acute cold wind shelters, either natural or by design, play an important role for income producing ranches. Studies prove beef or dairy cattle protected from harsh elements perform better than cows kept in cold conditions below critical body temperature zones.

Providing shelter using poly ventilated tarps attached to covered structures on open ranges, feedlots, small pastures and production facilities greatly improves operating profits by allowing for predictable results. When exposed to sudden cold spells without shelter from windy-wet conditions feeder cattle coming from warmer climates or resident operations will under achieve. Performance or pleasure horses need shelter from harsh weather. Even though horses thrive in winter months they cannot escape the discomfort of strong winds when shelter is lacking. Horses kept in open-roof barns were the sides are open should avoid direct drafts at levels of the body trunk. Ventilated weather screens, properly placed ensure air movements reducing build up of ammonia, dust and entrapment of stale air.

Like large animals, outdoor pets require adequate shelter with warm bedding. Although pets develop thicker coats in cold weather additional intervention is required to keep dogs warm and healthy. Dry housing and warm bedding materials are ideal for maintaining body temperatures. Outdoor kennels require protection from chilling winds. Providing windscreens used around tennis courts attached to the fence structures create fast and inexpensive wind breaks. The tarps or screens reduce blowing rain and wind chills enhancing the use of insulated dog houses.

Providing plenty of food, water and shelter combats cold weather problems in livestock or pets reducing life threatening conditions. All animals require adequate protection from the elements. Like humans, animals exposed to freezing weather can suffer from frost-bite, hypothermia and other serious problems. Never assume animals when left outside because they have coats can easily adapt to all types of weather changes.

Posted in Ranching Applications