Friday, December 6, 2013

Watch Cold, Wet Weather with Sheep and Goats

Management of mature sheep and goats may change only slightly in colder weather compared to the routine management throughout the rest of the year.  Nothing takes the place of good routine observations for changes in feed availability and body condition score, health problems such as internal parasites and foot rot.

However, management will need to change in very cold temperatures and even more so in wet, cold temperatures according to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension.

For example, most producers who kid or lamb in late spring or after there is little likelihood of snow of freezing rain, no shelter may be needed for animals giving birth outside.

“For other producers who plan to have sheep or goats give birth in the winter months, they need to plan ahead for shelter when the babies are born,” said Dr. Pennington. “Keep in mind that it is possible to lose most of the babies born in cold, wet weather if there is no shelter for the babies.  Lambs and kids are smaller than calves and need more shelter in the cold, wet winter than the larger calves.”

If it is wet, then shelter is needed for babies born in cold, wet weather because the babies will not be able to maintain their body temperature outside.

“The wind chill will negatively affect the babies before it will the larger mothers which will generate more heat from the bodies.  If you are inside, a heat lamp will provide extra heat for the babies,” said Pennington.

If it is not wet, then a wind break may be needed to protect the babies in cold weather.  Many lambs and kids will be fine in cold weather, but the wind and wet will significantly add to the problems of maintaining body temperature.

According to Pennington, in severe weather, sheep and goats will eat more than normal in order to maintain body temperature.  Good quality hay or other feed should be available to them.

“Make sure that the water is not frozen and is available to the animals.  The water may be frozen on the top and require breaking the ice.  It is also possible the pipes to the water can be frozen in very cold temperatures,” said Pennington.

For more information about raising goats and sheep contact Dr. Jodie A. Pennington, a Lincoln University region small ruminant educator headquartered at Newton County Extension Center, Neosho by phone at (417) 455-9500 or by email at

No comments:

Post a Comment