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In Reply to: Cold Weather posted by Helene on October 07, 2001 at 13:43:09:
Our weather is starting to get colder too and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. I've found that at this time of year (as with early spring), chances of pneumonia do get much greater because of the weather extremes and the dampness. I've noticed less of a worm problem the colder it gets though on the flip side.
Goats do get thicker coats in the winter and like horses, their hair is pretty much hollow. They can take some pretty extreme temperatures (down to maybe as low as 60 below) as long as they have some kind of shleter that keeps them out of the wind rain or snow. Dry bedding is a must though.
Imagine me last one very cold winter night last year (20 below wind chills) making hourly trips to the goat shelter to see how they were doing. They were all kind of standing around looking at me with perplexed faces wondering what the heck I was doing out there. I was alot colder than they were - I knew that much for sure.
As per suggestions - well I do have a few for you. Some people may or may not agree with this entirely but it has worked in our specific situation. On the colder nights I give a few portions more of cracked corn as corn has a tendency to generate heat. Fiber such as hay or alfalfa will do this to some degree also. Just remember if you are feeding more cracked corn to your billies, make sure to give them ammonium chloride to prevent urinary calculi.
The frozen water was a problem as well. Either the water trough would freeze or the garden hoses would freeze. A friend told me to put a small submersible pump in the bottom of the trough to keep the water moving and wall-la, it works!
Something else too that I've found to be detrimental to goats both young and old. The urge to take them in the house is quite powerful and I have been guilty of this myself quite often. But think about the drastic temperature change. It might be 10 below outside and suddenly you bring the goat into the house where it's 80. I don't think they adapt as readily as humans to this change. I've brought them in for a day or two and put them back out and it's then when they start getting sick it seems. I'm not saying don't bring them in, but if you do, leave them in for awhile so they can get good and acclimated.
Anyway, for the most part I thinks goats winter survival is largely determined upon how much nutrition they get just before winter sets in when there will be very little natural browse. They need as much nutrition as possible so they can get their winter coats and adapt to the seasonal changes. It would be interesting to see just what type of physiological changes a goat goes through in the late fall to see how they deal with less nutrition in the winter. This would be quite a study - especially for those of us who raise our goats outside year round.
Hopefully this has been of some help to you.
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