Avoid Cold Weather Hazards for Livestock and Pets

LANSING, MICH. In response to the extreme cold temperatures forecast this week, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding animal owners to plan for cold, dangerous conditions that may impact the health and well-being of their pets and livestock.

“Both pets and livestock are affected by these harsh conditions and it’s imperative that owners take the extra steps necessary to ensure the health and safety of their animals,” said Dr. Nora Wineland, MDARD State Veterinarian. “Michigan law requires owners provide an adequate supply of feed and water for their animals, shelter from the wind and other severe conditions.”

As a reminder, dogs, cats, and other companion animals living inside homes may not be able to tolerate outdoor winter temperatures for long periods of time. Guardian dogs and barn cats that live outside still need dry, clean, enclosed spaces such as dog or cat houses that help retain body heat.

Other winter precautions for companion animals and livestock include:

  • Protection from de-icing chemicals and anti-freeze, which are toxic to animals
  • Access to clean water that is not frozen
  • Increasing feed or high energy feed, which helps animals stay warm
  • Shelter to allow animals to escape wind and heavy snow and maintain body temperatures
  • Caution around icy areas to prevent falls and injuries
  • Take special precautions if you must haul livestock in winter weather

MDARD’s Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for the Care of Farm Animals (GAAMP) have specific guidance on cold weather care for livestock species. Some general precautions include:

  • Ensure access to clean water that is not frozen.
  • Provide additional high-quality feed, as this helps keep animals warm.
  • Safeguard animals from the elements by providing shelter, like barns and/or windbreaks via wooded areas or hills to escape from the wind.

For more information on GAAMPs, visit at www.michigan.gov/gaamps

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