Have you ever wonder how much cold your goat can tolerate? Goats can tolerate the cold winter temperature, even in the severe winter with temperature below freezing, as long as they are dry and protected from the cold wind. To thrive in cold temperature, a goat has to acclimate. Goats must be allowed to experience changing temperature to allow it to acclimate by growing undercoat cahsmere.
The cashmere helps goat to keep them warm. Shivering is expected while your goat acclimates. A goat with well-developed undercoat can stand outside while snowing and not feeling cold. Even the goat can tolerate the cold, you still need to take care of your goat’s need so it can continue to thrive the cold and doesn’t get in any problems. Here we will discuss guaranteed tips to take care of goat in severe winter time.
- Provide Warm Shelter
The first of 4 guaranteed tips to take care of goat in severe winter time is to provide warm shelter. Shelter is needed in severe winter time since your goats will spend most of their time inside the shelter. The shelter will protect your goat from snow, hail, and wind chill. You may want a heat lamp in the shelter to give extra heat, but make sure that it is safe, not accessible to goat since it can chew the cord, and not close with the bedding or walls since it can cause fire. There are many cases that heat lamp burns the barn or shelter and take goat’s live, that’s why you are not recommended to use it.
Healthy goats, even the kids and pregnant goat, can tolerate the cold as long as you provide them with warm and proper shelter and everything they need. Make sure that the shelter is draft and breeze free, that you can’t feel any wind inside the shelter. You may need to put additional plank on the side of the shelter where the wind hits the hardest. A good shelter must be able to stay dry in the worst winter time. A shelter made of wood is the warmest, better than concrete shelter. An insulated shelter is even better to keep your goat warm. Give a straw bedding inside the shelter. It acts as an extra insulation to keep your goats warm. Do deep litter method by continue to layer clean straw on top of the old straw.
When the old straw begins to compost, it will release heat that can keep the shelter warm. Make sure that the shelter has good ventilation if you want to do the deep litter method. Also make sure that the shelter is dry. Damp or wet shelter is a good environment for bacteria that can make respiratory or other health problems to your goat. In severe winter, goat can crowd together to keep it warm. It increases the likelihood of injury. Make sure that you have enough space for all your goats and separate the smaller goats and the young goats.
- Provide Enough Food
Goat is a warm blooded animal. It will eat more than normal to maintain body temperature when experiencing temperature drop. Goats normally eat 3-4% of their body weight each day. In winter, you may need to give your goat 4% of the body weight. You can prepare double or third amount of your goat’s usual food. You have to provide your goats enough food in severe winter so that they keep getting body heat and stay warm. By keep eating, goat’s rumen will stay active and produce body heat and energy. You may also add grain to your goat’s diet to give it more energy.
Goats normally don’t need much grain in their diet, but they enjoy munching them. Hay contain high fiber that provides high source for rumination. Provide your best quality food for lactating goat and kids in the severe winter since they need more nutrition than normal goats. Pregnant goat has lower rumen capacity since it developing kids, make it harder for her to eat enough food to compensate for the baby and cold. Pregnant goat must be monitored for symptoms of ketosis, a life threatening condition resulting from an inability to consume enough calories. Do not milk the shivering pregnant goat, or she will get hypothermia. You may give her coat and try to stabilize her nutrition intake.
In severe winter, make sure that the water is not frozen and always available for your goat. Water is essential for rumination. Without water the goat will not eat. You may need to break ice to get unfrozen water below. If you depend on water pipes, you water pipes can freeze in very cold temperature. Consider to place the water pipes below the ground where freezing is less likely or to give insulation. You can also consider to use heating pipe, but make sure that it is safe and not accessible for your goat. You can also give your goat warm water since it has longer time to freeze and your goat will like it to warm their body. You have to provide your goat with fresh unfrozen water at least twice a day. You can use ice cream buckets since it is easier to knock the ice out of the bucket, or you can invest in heating bucket.
- Preparing Before Winter
To make sure that your goat can survive the severe winter, you may need to prepare your goat and goat’s needs before the winter come. Stock enough food for winter since you may not be able to get enough goat’s food in winter time. Prepare yourself for any power outages. If you provide your goat with electric water supply, you may still need to stock fresh unfrozen water for emergency. Make sure that you store the food in clean place. Clean the shelter before the winter. Your goats will spend most of their time inside the shelter in winter, so make sure that it is clean and free from harmful substances that can make health problems for your goat. Make sure to assess ammonia levels at the ground. Remove and replace the bedding for safer air quality and your goat’s comfort. Make sure that you don’t cut your goat’s coat short after a month before the winter. Your goat needs its coat to protect them for the cold. Examine your goats and evaluate their health before the winter.
- Monitor Your Goat
A healthy goat usually doesn’t require more care if you already provide all the things above. But you still have to monitor your goat to see if it tolerates the cold well and doesn’t have any problems. You may need to give coat to the goat that can’t tolerate the cold well.