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Cold Weather Animal Care

I am taking part in a posting series related to the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.”

Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter. I am a teaming up with several other bloggers to bring you this series.
Today’s topic is “Cold Weather Animal Care.” The participating blogs for this week include:

After reading my post, please take a few minutes to visit these other blogs and learn about what cold weather animal care looks like where they live. 

We’re experiencing a colder than normal November here in South Texas. Last night we got down into the 30’s and had a wind chill that was below freezing. We don’t normally see this kind of cold until around Thanksgiving or later. Yesterday’s high was 57.

But here’s the deal, by Sunday, our low will be about 64 and our high will be about 83. A few days after that we’ll get another cold front and the temps will dip into the 40’s and and the highs will be in the 60’s. And this is how the cycle is here.

So any winterizing we do for our animals is temporary, important but temporary. We cover and and uncover, heat and remove heat as we need to. Please keep that in mind as you read what we do for “winterizing” our animals.

This is Rascal, and yes, he is a rascal at times. But he’s also a really great dog. He’s about 8 years old and has been a part of our family since he was a puppy – as a pet, an outside pet. Rascal has a wooden dog house that we built from a large crate. We have quite a bit of carpet left over from when the previous owners of our home replaced the carpet and so we cut a piece for Rascal’s floor. He also has a set of blankets that I’ve picked up from the thrift store that we put in the dog house when it gets cold. It’s a pretty cozy little house. If it were to ever get really cold, we’d move him into the garage for the night.

Here’s a sampling of our chickens. We have about 45 hens and 3 roosters. I say about because we don’t know what the 4 new babies are yet. We don’t have to worry with their water freezing so we don’t need to worry about that.

Also, their body heat along with some hay or pine shavings can keep their coop warm enough. From what I’ve read, this is true for most climates, unless you have a very large coop and not very many chickens.

We do give our chickens extra food during the winter months. They don’t have as much opportunity for foraging as they do during the other months and they use quite a bit of calories keeping warm. On really cold mornings, I’ll make some hot oatmeal and we’ll take it out to them. I learned this from Lisa at Fresh Eggs Daily. I’ll probably never sew curtains for the chickens but I can do oatmeal.

The other animals we have is bees – I guess they’re really insects but you know what I mean. Bees do a really great job of keeping their homes tidy and sealed. They produce propolis and use this to seal the creases and crevices in their hives. This is enough winterizing for our climate. The bees are not out foraging like they are in other months, they like to hang out inside the hive. Their body heat will heat the hive.

We actually didn’t harvest any honey from our hives this year. Gabriel feels like they are not strong enough and wants them to have all the honey they need to make it through the winter. (They’re really his hives even though I say “our”.) If we were to harvest honey, we would need to be checking to see if they needed to be fed during the winter. Which Gabriel did last year. We’re not sure if that is why some of the hives didn’t make it but given that we’ve had a severe drought this year and food has already been scarce Gabriel decided not to take any chances. I think it’s a wise decision.

Now, if you live where it where it snows, you will probably need to some winterizing to your hives. Brookfield Farms has a series on winterizing bees.

So, that’s pretty much it for the Schneider homestead. What about you? How you do care for your animals during the winter?

Thanks for sharing with your friends!