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Weather Changes: Does your animal’s house need adjusting?

About two weekends ago, it was really nice weather-wise at my farm.  We had beautiful, sunny days in the 50’s.   The horses were feeling good and in turn were starting to rub on every little corner and edge they could find to get rid of their winter coats.  The dogs were starting to do the same thing except inside our house (Dyson vacuum sweepers are wonderful).   But this weekend, we had 8 inches of snow on the ground so the blankets were back on the horses and the dogs tend not to spend as much time outside doing their business.

Where I live in Ohio, this is normal weather.  Like the old saying “if you don’t like the weather we are having, wait a little while and it will change”.  So what do you do with animals that cannot control their environments like chickens in their coop?  I have sliding windows high and low in my chicken coop.  As it becomes warmer, I can slide the upper window open to whatever I think is needed.  When it is cooler again in a few days, I can easily close them to help regulate the temperature.  When it becomes much warmer in the summer, I can open all the windows to help with temperature control (but I make sure that the wind never blows directly on the birds).  And when it is warm and dry enough to haul my horse and llama manure to all the neighbor’s gardens, I will remove all the old bedding in the chicken pen too.  But up until that time, I will keep adding fresh, dry bedding to the pen so I do not stir up all the dust and ammonia which without enough ventilation could hurt the birds.

My next door neighbor down the road is the local 4-H rabbit club advisor and basically follows the same procedure with their rabbit pens.   Even though the pens are above the ground and there are several rabbits under one roof with a pen for each rabbit, the same principles apply.

And remember all animals may be affected by the warmer weather too.   We watch the dogs as they go out the main door (to go to a 4-H meeting or a show) for we use salt to help keep the ice under control during the winter.  Until April showers wash away most of the salt, we keep a careful eye on the dog’s feet.   The Shelties have the hair between their toes trimmed for showing but we try to wipe their feet as they come in and out of that door to remove all the salt we can.  Or even the bigger animals like horses can be a concern.  As it becomes warmer, even though we clean the stall daily, some of the urine penetrates into the ground.  Warmer weather increases bacteria activity that will release more of the ammonia.  I use a product like Stall Dry or something similar that is not an ag lime to help control the smell when the stalls are heavily cleaned.  It helps control the quality of air at their level, but does not affect their feet.

So as it becomes warmer… then colder….then warmer again, we must remember to adjust our animal’s environment with actions that will help them.

Posted on 4/9/2013 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |   Category: Alpaca, Bison, Cat, Chinchilla, Deer, Dog, Equine, Game Bird, Goat, Guinea Pig, Llama, Pigeon, Poultry, Rabbit, Rat and Mouse, Ratite, Sheep, Specialty

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