By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
The winter season is upon us. In the upcoming weeks, we will likely be seeing a drop in temperatures along with several ice and snow storms throughout the country. During severe weather conditions, keeping our family safe is always a top priority; however, we should remember the health and safety of our pets and farm animals. Just like their owners, animals are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for both frostbite and hypothermia. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads and hooves can quickly freeze and the animal can suffer permanent damage.
Although it is easier to bring pets, such as dogs and cats, in the home during severe weather conditions; keeping farm animals warm and safe may require more planning and preparation on your part. Lack of planning can lead to losses of livestock and affect animal production according to The Center for Food Security & Public Health. Here are a five tips to help secure your farm for a winter storm:
1. Stay informed about upcoming weather conditions through the National Weather Service (http://www.weather.gov/) and know the difference between terminology, such as winter storm warning, winter storm watch, and blizzard warning. This will allow you to better prepare for the type of storm you will be encountering.
2. Make sure pets, horses and livestock have access to a barn or shelter where they can escape the severe wind and cold.
3. Develop an emergency plan for power outages and a lack of water or feed resources. Have an emergency supply of forage & grain, identify emergency resources for water, and consider having a generator on standby for emergency power.
4. Stockpile emergency equipment and supplies including sandbags, shovels, road salt or ice melt. Keep antifreeze out of the reach of animals and know the signs of antifreeze poisoning. Additionally, keep antifreeze and other poisons out of the reach of children.
5. Winterize building that house livestock. Install storm shutters, weather strips, and insulate doors and windows. Assure roof structures are free of leaks and can hold heavy weight due to large accumulations of snow and ice.
Preparing to protect animals during severe winter weather conditions should not happen when a storm is approaching, but plans should be in place well in advance. If you live in an area that experiences sub-zero temperatures, it is essential that you take extra care to keep your pets and livestock safe and healthy during this time of year.
These animal safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. To date, more than 1.4 million children & adults have been impacted by a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in their local community. Learn more about the program at http://www.progressiveag.org
Photo: Vital animal safety lessons are taught to participants at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Iowa.