This photo shows Julie covered with snow and ice in December 2013 after a day spent outside enjoying the snow.

Winter storm sends even snow-loving livestock inside

Last week’s weather seemed extreme to almost everyone. Although I was fortunate enough to only receive a couple of inches of snow, the negative degree temperatures combined with high winds still made for a miserable few days.

I spent much time debating with myself about whether or not the horses should be turned out during such extreme weather. Spending the day outside allows them to exercise, which is good for them, and it means less stall cleaning for me, but I couldn’t believe even they would enjoy being outside in negative temperatures.

In the end, it was my draft horse, Julie, who helped me make the decision. She is the only horse to have access to a stall and a dry lot 100% of the time. She is from the state up north so she loves the snow and cold temperatures and often stands outside no matter what the temperature to enjoy snow. That was not the case last week.

I arrived in the barn last Monday morning to find Julie snow-free and standing in her stall. I decided that if this snow-loving draft horse didn’t want to be outside that none of my minis would want to be either.

I looked out the window quite often during the following couple of days and I never saw Julie venture out of her stall and overhang until last Tuesday afternoon. At that point, I assumed the worst was over, and although the temperatures were still in the single digits, I put all the horses outside the following morning.

As with all types of livestock, it is important to know your animals well so you can determine the best way to keep them healthy and happy. As for me, I think I’ll stop looking at the thermometer and continue to use Julie as a reference when deciding if the weather is too bad to turn the rest of the horses outside.

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