Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold Weather and Animal Care


Wintertime means extra care for our animals. Measures need to be taken to ensure their health and  safety.

Our littlest and most independent animal is our Dwarf  Rabbit, Knuckles. She is easy to care for. We give her the needed tools and she cares for herself. My husband built her a new hutch prior to winter. He added a small, screened in dirt box. This allows her to dig tunnels where she can escape the cold and keep warm. The screen keeps her from digging out or eating the wood to escape. Hay was placed in the upper levels for insulation and tunneling. Twice a day, food and water are checked and replenished as needed.

Hutch with dirt box in right bottom corner.
Rabbit tunnel

Our cat, Prince, lives on the back porch. He comes and goes through his own pet door. Food is put out for him each morning. At dusk, the food is put up, out of reach of wandering wildlife: foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Many times during periods of lower temperatures Prince can be found snuggled up to a chicken in a nest box. Unfortunately, the chicken is usually not too happy about this.

Totally content cat. 

'House Security', Max and Princess live inside. If the temperature rises to 30-35 degrees we usually let them out for a few hours. If it snows, rains or drops in temperature, they have a dog house filled with hay to keep them warm.  To keep them healthy and burn energy, we train or play tug indoors or take them for long hikes weather permitting.

Princess on left. Max on Right.
Dog run

The chickens and the ducks need the most care during cold weather. In the past we have lost fowl due to lower temperatures. This summer my husband built a new coop, insulated the walls and wired it for electricity.  We did not have time to get the power line buried so we have a heavy duty outdoor extension cord, to run electricity to the coop for the heat lamps. Hay is placed in nesting boxes, on the coop floor, chicken yard ground and under their favorite evergreen tree. This serves as insulation to keep their feet from freezing. Extra food is provided for energy. Powdered vitamins, especially prepared for fowl is added to their drinking water. Water is given once daily at a minimum.  As weather permits, a plastic tub is filled to allow the ducks to bathe. Ducks have to have water to bathe their faces and heads to prevent eye infections.

Keeping warm.
No frozen feet here
"Dirty duck, too cold for a bath today."

Hooray! Snow!

We received two more inches of beautiful snow today. I enjoy the snow. The animals have their own opinions though...
Perfect weather to wear a thick fur. 
The Ducks don't know about the snow yet. 
"Ugh! Snow!"
"Let's roll in the snow, Duck!"

"Cold! Get me some boots!"
 "There isn't any snow under the tree! Let's go!"
"We made it to the tree! Hooray!"

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