The cold weather is enough to stress out all species of man and beast. But for sheep and goats, and especially those that lamb and kid in the cold winter months, extra management steps need to be taken to eliminate the stress on the flocks and herds.
Although most sheep and goats will have thick coats of wool and hair, they still require some type of well-ventilated housing. Those with really thick wool or hair require less shelter, but still need something to block them from the wind. Any female that is getting ready to lamb or kid needs to be confined to a ventilated barn with dry bedding, and newborns need to be dried as soon as possible. Heat lamps can be used but should be monitored to reduce the risk of electrocution or fire. Ventilation is vital to provide fresh air to avoid respiratory issues.
Once the young lambs and goats are dried off, nursing and thriving, they can be turned out. Be sure they still have access to warm, dry shelter to get out of the cold, wind and any precipitation. Many producers will put a separate creep area in a portion of their barns to give their lambs their own dry area to retreat to and to introduce them to feed.
Water is the most vital nutrient of life. However, in the winter months, it becomes more challenging to provide it to your livestock. Be sure your sheep and goats have fresh, clean water at all times. If it is frozen, break the ice or provide a heated watering system. Be cautious of any cords, as both sheep and goats are curious and might chew on the cords, leading to unnecessary deaths.
In the winter months, the energy requirements for these smaller ruminants increases to help keep them warm and to help with lactation. Late gestation and lactation are when the nutritional needs are at their peak. Be sure to provide them with high-quality alfalfa hay and supplement with feed once they have lambed or kidded. Many producers recommend feeding hay in a feeder verses on the ground to eliminate waste and to keep the spread of disease down.
Another way to keep the nutritional needs of your flock or herd at their peak is to provide them with a DuraFerm® Sheep Concept•Aid® Protein Tub or DuraFerm® Goat Concept•Aid® Protein Tub. DuraFerm tubs provide high quality vitamin, mineral and protein supplementation specifically designed to target cycling, embryo production and conception when fed 30 days prior to lambing through breeding. All DuraFerm products contain AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. Amaferm increases the energy available to the animal resulting in better performance, more milk production, and improved reproductive success.
The DuraFerm Concept•Aid Sheep Protein Tub is a cooked tub for sheep with 16% natural protein. This product contains organic zinc and manganese, selenium yeast and high levels of vitamin E to support maximum reproduction and health. The sheep protein tub is 125-pounds and when put out during lambing, the lambs often like to lick on it too.
The DuraFerm® Concept•Aid® Goat Protein Tub is a 50-lb. tub with 20% added protein. In addition to the Amaferm, it contains organic copper, zinc and manganese, selenium yeast and high levels of vitamin E to support reproductivity and health.
As always, follow your regular vaccination protocols and establish good rapport with your veterinarian.
Don’t let the cold temperatures give you the winter blues on your sheep or goat operation. With a few added management strategies your winter can be less stressful for you and your animals this winter.