As winter approaches, many parts of the country are going to start seeing the first snowfalls of the year. With much of the west coast facing an El Nino winter and the east coast expecting even more snowfall than seen in recent years, it is important to remember that being prepared can save lives. The most important thing you can do to stay prepared for a winter storm is to have a plan. The following tips are friendly reminders as we head into winter.
-Water is key during any time of the year, even in winter. If your horse cannot drink an adequate amount of water in winter, they can suffer adverse health effects. Furthermore, it raises the potential for colic and dehydration. Ensure your horse has access to clean drinking water at all times, and have a plan if the pipe lines happen to freeze or break during a storm. Horses are most likely to drink water when it is between (45-65 degrees F) and most horses will need between 7-10 gallons of water per day.
-It is never a bad idea to keep a few extra bags of feed and bags of bedding around in case an unexpected storm blocks roadways. Also try to not let feed stores run low, in case of a true emergency with an unexpected storm.
-Always keep a week’s worth of hay in a convenient, dry area for easy access when the storm hits.
-In the event that a storm threatens to keep horses in doors for days at a time, consider reducing grain rations and increasing hay rations. Increasing hay rations keeps the horse’s minds busy while encouraging gut motility.
-If your horses are in stalls, ensure you have enough bedding to keep them dry in case of flooding. Likewise, if your horses are in pastures it is wise to provide adequate shelter from snow and excess rain.
-Blanketing is an option many horse owners take advantage of. Ensure there are no rub marks or moisture under the blanket. Excess moisture under the blanket can lead to hypothermia once the moisture cools as well as skin irritation and even skin infections.
-For potential flooding areas, or high snowfall areas you should reroute surface water run off to prevent pooling of large amounts of water.
-If mud or large amounts of snow make it difficult to push wheelbarrows out of the barn, you can use straw and bedding to create a more stable path.
-Winterize all trailers, storage buildings and barns before winter hits. It is never fun to be fixing a leaking roof in a rainstorm or to walk out to the barn after a snowstorm and find part of the roof collapsed.
-Keep generators and farm equipment fueled, and in good working order. It is also a good idea to keep a few spare gallons of fuel for equipment.
-Keep a first aid kit for you and the horses well stocked in case of minor emergency. If the roadways are closed and the veterinarian cannot reach you, ensure you are prepared to handle minor medical issues.
Whether you are facing above average rainfall or snowfall, being prepared is the best way for you and your horses to make it through winter safely and sanely.
Stay warm out there,
For more great winter storm preparedness tips, and to see where I learned my tips from, please feel free to visit these great sites: