Snowy Cold Animal Care

So first we received a foot of snow, and this morning the temperature dropped to 14 degrees.  The robins (above) are unhappy about the lack of ground available to find worms.  I went to help Tom with animal chores this morning.  When I fed the rams I noticed Shawn:

Normally when the sheep get ice on their fleece tips we call them “dingle berries” (a technical term), but this large we decided to call them dingle bombs.  So I called to Tom to help catch Shaun to cut the bombs off with shears.  I noticed Ebony our oldest skinniest sheep laying in the snow next to the rams’ fence.  Apparently that is where she has been every day Tom has been feeding the animals (during my recuperation).  He has had to drag her back to the barn every day to feed her despite the snow and freezing temperatures.  So today we drug her back and left her in the feed shed.  She is unhappy about her captivity.

But is it for her own good- a sheep her age out in the snow trying to entice rams- really!

So Tom and I caught Shaun and he lifted him up for me to cut the dingle bombs off and here is what I saw:

Not only does he have HUGE dingle bombs, but his legs are bare and raw.  We have had more snow and colder temperatures in the past, but I have never seen the Shetlands have any problems with it.  The rams have shelter but, of course, they prefer not to use it.  So we then (after cutting the d-bombs off) drug Shawn back to the barn, moved penned goats around and put him in the pen.  I really hope his legs will be OK.  I am really worried they are frostbit, and he may need to be put down.  Then we looked at the other rams, and they had the same problem although not to the same degree.  We chased then drug them into the same pen.

Have any of you cold-weather Shetland folks (like in the Midwest and East) seen this?  Jocko has been through many a snowy cold winter here and never had any trouble.  Is it the bad combination of deep snow and the cold at the same time?  Anything else I should do?  Shetlands are tough but maybe they are not selected for dealing with deep snow?  My impression is that deep snow is unusual for them on the Islands.

In other farm news, Zeus and Lil (our prospective pack goats) are out of quarantine.  Here they are meeting some of the rest of the herd.

And just a pretty peacock photo.

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15 Responses to Snowy Cold Animal Care

  1. Michelle says:

    I hope you get some responses to your rams’ legs, so I can learn, too. We don’t get as much snow as you do and all my freshly shorn sheep are being kept in right now because of the cold and wind.

    • I hope I get responses to. From your response I am guessing you have not had this problem. I am really glad I did not shear in February this year, although it is scheduled for next week. I sure hope it warms up!!!

  2. Laura says:

    You might try something like bag balm, or the like, on the raw spots to protect them. It will also prevent the snow from sticking to them. If they have feeling in their feet, and their legs seem to feel uniformly warm, I wouldn’t worry about frostbite.

    I had to put the heater on in my pumphouse, so I don’t blow up my pump like I did last year…

    • Thanks Laura. Putting bag balm on rams legs in a pen sounds like fun. But we have some, but it may be frozen too! I am not sure how I can tell if they have feeling in their legs, but I sure should be able to feel if they are warm. I really appreciate the advice!

  3. Chai Chai says:

    That is really odd, our sheep have been dealing with the snow (deep and cold) and they have never developed ice balls on their wool. It may be a combination of the wet (have you had high humidity?) followed by snow. Our guys mostly stick to trails they make and sleep in their tent on hay.

    • You are probably right. The previous moisture on their wool likely contributed to their icing. These guys do not seem to use their strawed shelter. But they are in the barn now regardless.

  4. Teresa says:

    I’m no help. I had a billy goat lose the hair on his legs from so much urine as he cologned himself. He made it through our Iowa winter without problems, but he stayed in the shelter most of the time.

  5. Jackie Craw says:

    Sorry to hear (and see via pictures) the ram’s legs. Ouch. We usually have 2-3 feet of snow on the ground most winters. And we get cold snaps in the single digits and below sometimes. The sheep usually manage fine. The llamas and goats shiver. The shelter is there for them, and they all use it. The sheep are more apt to go out in the snow and “explore” than the goats or llamas. I have never noticed their legs being raw. But, we do have a drier, less humid climate. With the chickens we have had problems with frostbite. Their combs turn black, and later the black part falls off. One rooster lost both feet. He runs around just fine on his stubs. I have noticed this happens more when we are foggy, and more humid. Your rams will probably be fine. I like the idea of bag balm. Watch for any black tissue.

    • It may be all the wetness followed by the cold. There still is no black, just bare skin. We have had combs freeze on some chickens and some ears frostbit on the sheep and goats.

  6. Charlotte says:

    I have a question. Had a lamb born outside in 9 degree weather. MOther took one baby into shed. The other baby somehow got through the fence in the pasture. When I found them that morning I took the pasture baby in and put his feet in water to thaw them out and heat him up . He was in the house 3 hours. He finally got warm and I put him back with the mom. I noticed 3 days later one foot was swollen so I started him on LA200 . Now he is limping and the foot has a fever.. any suggestions??

    • Donna says:

      LA200 should be a good antibiotic for most but not all infections of the foot. But it still could be an infection or a response to a cold injury. As usual, I suggest you have a vet look at it and provide suggestions.

  7. Charlotte says:

    My Brother is a vet and this is what he recommended although he is 400 miles away so he was unable to look at it. He also said that if the tissue was frozen that no matter what you do you may loose the skin and or the hoof. I was hopping someone had gone through the same thing and would have other suggestions. Thank you for the replay.

  8. Charlotte says:

    Thank You. Charlotte

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