Livestock is one of the most lucrative agri-preneurship endeavours one can undertake. Goats are usually kept for their meat and milk though hides and fibre can also be produced from goats. Goats are modest domestic animals that do not really require much in terms of food and shelter. They are generally very adaptable to virtually any living environment. It is well-known that goats can thrive even in the driest and hottest of regions. How about cold weather? Can goats tolerate cold weather? This shall be the focus of our article as we seek to equip you with knowledge that will help you raise your goats better.
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Proper Shelter Is The Key Issue
Goats can tolerate cold weather provided the living conditions are dry at all times. The moment wetness gets in the picture cold weather becomes a menace for goats. Just as long as dryness is maintained and there is no exposure to the wind, if any, goats can tolerate cold weather. If it there is wetness (either from the weather elements or from man-made causes) and too much wind, hypothermia is inevitable. Hypothermia can greatly diminish the health of the goats and even result in fatalities.
This brings to the fore the importance of proper shelter for the goats. You would have to ensure that the goats are shielded from any wind and their living space is kept dry and is not exposed to wetness e.g. from drizzling. Aspects that help here are adding bedding and also adding insulation to the shelter. If there is no bedding you must find a way to allow the goats to keep off the floor. Obviously if they are in direct contact with the floor they will feel colder. This is because cold air is less dense and always settles down to the lowest points. Goats usually have minimalistic shelters, like we said, they are modest. Thus when it is cold extra efforts must be put in to make the shelter adhere to what we have just been discussing. Goats can tolerate cold weather if all that is kept in check.
Warm Water Helps
Goats can tolerate cold weather provided they have access to warm water – for drinking purposes. It is also workable to have water that is lukewarm. This is meant to promote the hydration of the goats in cold weather. Not being properly hydrated can affect goats, particularly in cold weather when they are less inclined to drink water. Some farmers have even noticed that when they provide warm drinking water for the goats they even drink more. Drinking warm water will also do well for the goats’ metabolism and body temperature. Water intake is also a key factor in light of the fact that goats eat more during cold weather.
Adequate Feeds Matter For Goats To Tolerate Cold Weather
Typically humans are inclined to eat more during cold weather. This is also the case for goats – they have a huge appetite during cold weather. Thus in order to help goats tolerate cold weather you must ensure they have adequate feeds during cold spells. It is important to know that digestion plays a crucial role in contributing to a favourable body temperature for the goats. Experts recommend feed that is rich in fiber. Why? This is because food rich in fiber puts rumination into action – a process which actually generates body heat for the goats. Additionally it is advised that you must feed more with foods rich in zinc and copper. This is crucial to helping the goats put on fur. The fur will go a long way in insulating their bodies from the cold weather.
More Caution Is Required For Recently Born Kids
Earlier we spoke of how goats can tolerate cold weather just so long shelter is up to scratch. That holds true for grown goats but as for recently born kids more attention is required. The hypothermia we mentioned is even more serious for recently born kids. This is because when they are delivered they will obviously be so wet. As soon as they are born pay close attention to their warmth otherwise they can literally freeze to death. The first two weeks are of particular importance because they will be very delicate. Bear in mind that during the early days of the kids they have to suck milk from their mothers. Hypothermia will take away their ability to suck thus leading to starvation.
Activity For The Goats Is Necessary
Goats can tolerate cold weather if the shelter is well-put together, we dealt with that. However, as much as keeping them indoors is good it can also be bad. Depending on the size of their housing, they might be too crowded to a point where they barely move. Even if the housing is big enough, the goats might find themselves cuddling up together in a corner to keep warm. Either way the goats end up having limited or no movement.
This is not a good thing especially when you factor in that they will be eating more during cold conditions. Obesity can result from inactivity. It is important that the goats get ample space and time to move around. This helps in generating body heat. If they can be given time to move around outside during the day that would be good – only provided that the outside conditions are not too chilly or wet.
Overall, goats can tolerate cold weather in general. It just must be borne in mind that the young ones (especially from birth throughout the first two weeks) need extra attention. Otherwise, if goats are sheltered in a space that is dry and bars wind then goats can tolerate cold weather. In fact, when goats are grown you would really have to be super concerned when temperatures reach below zero. Other than that goats are quite tough and can live through tough conditions. There is always an option for artificial heating but be wary of things like accidental fires and unnecessary power bills.