As it gets colder and the fields frost, livestock producers prepare for the dead of winter.
As many focus on cattle – goats and sheep also require changes during the winter.
Depending on purpose of the livestock, is how the producer prepares them for the weather changes.
Producers who primarily pasture raise their goats and sheep, should substitute grass hay during winter months.
“We often have Bermuda in what we bale for our sheep to have in the winter,” Northwest Arkansas show lamb producer Sarah Wright said.
Show stock has a different ration because they require more while producing.
“Since we are a show lamb operation, we spoil our girls a little more than most,” Wright said. “They are fed both grain and hay, especially during the winter as that’s when they are heavy bred and lambing.”
Wright said they want to make sure their lambs are well fed to produce strong healthy babies and plentiful, good quality milk.
“As they are moved in the barn for lambing, we also supplement with alfalfa hay to have something a little richer, help keep their gut in check and give that extra quality to their milk production,” Wright said.
Lambs have thicker coats and don’t necessarily spend winter indoors; it is up to the producer’s preference and resources.
Goats’ coats thicken in the winter, but are less hardy than sheep when it comes to bone chilling winds, snow or sleet.
A shelter, such a shed or barn, for the goats to freely come and go can keep them protected during winter weather.
Goat producers need to be aware of the ventilation in their shelters, especially in the winter.
Extra bedding in the winter is necessary, especially if there are young kids, however keeping the barn floor clean and checking their herd daily is important when preventing ammonia buildup from urine.
Ammonia buildup – even with orphans in places such as dog crates – can cause vision issues, even blindness in goats.
Keeping the air clean can keep the goats healthy.
Water is also important the in the colder months. Breaking ice in the winter is the biggest chore for any livestock producer and it is no different for lamb and goat producers.
Electric heaters in troughs are an option for producers who farm part time or want to spend less time breaking frozen ice.
Buckets are also an option for water, however producers need to refresh the water multiple times a day during freezing temperatures.
It is also important for producers to be aware of lamb and goat water consumption during the winter months.
Supplementing a small amount of Gatorade powder in the water can cause the livestock to drink more and provide extra electrolytes to assist during the colder weather.


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