Halifax,VA - Lisa and Doug Bowen, owners of Country Charm Farm in Halifax own almost 40 goats. They said during the winter they spend extra time caring for their livestock. The cold weather means they have to take extra precautions.
As we get further and further into winter, Lisa and Doug Bowen find themselves spending more time with their goats. They said the colder temperatures get, the more attention the goats need."It's more time intensive during the winter," said Doug Bowen.
First things first, making sure the animals are dry and out of the wind.
"You have to ensure that they're given a draft-free environment, because even though they're hardy, they're very susceptible to respiratory problems like pneumonia," said Doug Bowen.
Animals still need some ventilation, though.
"There's a fine line there," said Doug Bowen.
Since the goats spend more time inside, they require extra grain, hay and other nutrition supplements.
"We provide a salt mineral block for them to lick, because again, they can't go out and eat like they normally would," said Doug Bowen.
Making sure they have plenty of warm water during the winter is also vital. That sometimes means having to refill buckets three or four times a day.
"If it's freezing, and the water buckets are freezing because they're on outside walls, then we break the ice and refill them with water," said Doug Bowen.
It's also important to keep an eye out for debris that may be stuck in the goats' hooves.
"If they're not trimmed properly, they can get debris underneath their hooves and ice and it can cause the hooves to crack and you've got other issues you'll have to deal with," said Lisa Bowen.
"We have to stay aware of what the goats are needing," added Doug Bowen.
The Bowens also said especially in the winter when food is scarce, goats are very prone to becoming victims of predators like coyotes. They said having guard animals such as dogs, llamas or donkeys is paramount to keeping predators out. An alternative would be very good fencing.