By Susan Hurt
Photo By Tony Hurt
With winter right around the corner, many of you are wondering just what this season has in store after the bitterly cold and snow-filled winter we experienced last year. Could it possibly be as bad (or worse) this year?
According to the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, which hit stands in late August, “the winter of 2014–15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation.”
The 198-year-old publication based in Lewiston, Maine, is calling for colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for over half of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.
It uses a secret formula based on sunspots, planetary positions and lunar cycles for its seasonal, long-range forecasts. And while no prediction is fool-proof, they did hit the nail on the head with an accurate prediction of last year’s worse-than-average winter weather.
Although it is still too early to have a firm forecast of what the winter of 2014 will bring, animal expert and veterinarian Todd Freeman believes it is never too early to plan ahead when caring for our farm friends. For that reason, Freeman shares several of his cold weather management tips for large animals.
- Provide adequate shelter to protect from the elements such as snow and ice.
- Make sure all water sources are easy to reach and free of ice or debris.
- Limit access to areas that are hazardous, such as ponds with ice cover.
- Check animals regularly and take care of sick and injured animals immediately.
- Keep a close eye on aged and newborn animals, as they are the most vulnerable to harsh weather.
- Provide good nutrition, such as quality hay and grain. Large animals have greater nutritional needs in colder weather and additional feed helps to provide needed warmth.
- It is important to test your feed’s nutritional value now because it is difficult for animals to maintain body condition with low-quality feed alone.
- Make sure all feeding/watering equipment is in working order and handling facilities are repaired as needed.
- Evaluate your herd for pregnancy status, udder conformation, lameness, etc., and cull all unproductive animals. Winter feed costs make up a high percentage of yearly maintenance costs.
- It is important to plan for colder weather in advance and make any necessary preparations.
- Now is the time to assess your resources to determine if you have enough supplies to get through the cold weather.
Meet the vet
Dr. Todd Freeman and his wife, Dr. Joanna Freeman, own and operate Little River Veterinary Clinic in Cadiz, where they treat animals in Trigg and the surrounding counties. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-522-4445.