Tips for Keeping your Goats Healthy during Winter

Winter is just around the corner. Taking a few simple steps this month to prepare can save you from having to improvise when the thermometer dips in coming weeks.

• Shelter. Now’s the time to make sure your goats have access to a shelter that can shield them from the wind and wet—emphasis on wet. A wet hair coat loses much of its insulation capacity and puts your goats at risk. Your shelter should be secure enough to keep bedding dry, but still allow for proper ventilation. So make the most of these pleasant autumn days and turn shelter maintenance into a family project. Remember, there’s nothing more miserable than discovering a leaky roof and then traipsing through mud to slap together a makeshift solution in finger-numbing cold.

• Fresh Air. Even during the cold months, goats need fresh air—especially young goats. In fact, constant confinement is unhealthy. Since bedding should be fluffed and rotated regularly, and wet, soiled bedding should be replaced, this can be a good excuse to turn the goats out while you work. In fact, as long as there is no heavy precipitation or extreme cold, goats are usually better off outdoors in winter. Consider constructing a simple raised platform in the pasture. It can provide a playtime diversion for young goats while keeping them up off the cold ground this winter.

• Water. Access to clean, fresh water at all times—even in frigid weather—is essential to your goats’ good health. A heater for the water tank can ensure that unfrozen water is available day and night. And it’s so much more pleasant to install it now than on the night of the first hard freeze.

• Frostbite. If you own dairy goats, take extra precautions to prevent frostbite of the udders during freezing weather. Stock up now on one of the many bag balms available, and when the weather turns cold, apply it regularly to tender exposed skin to prevent chapping.

• Worming. Nature throws enough hurdles at goats during the cold winter weather. Parasites needn’t be one of them, especially considering how easy it is to prevent them. Consult your veterinarian about a worming schedule, but a good rule of thumb is to do a treatment after the first frost, but prior to winter setting in.

• Extra Calories. Finally, because they must generate body heat to keep warm, goats need to consume more calories during cold weather. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, Purina Mills® Goat Chow® is a highly palatable, coarse sweet feed supplement containing corn, oats, barley and a nutritious pellet with 16 percent protein.

In addition to all of the tips above, providing proper nutrition is one of the most important things you can do to support your goats’ own inborn immune system during cold weather months. You can feel good about feeding Goat Chow® because it’s all-natural with no animal protein by-products.

Source material for this blog article was provided by Purina Mills, Inc. © 2008