Caring for Our Animals in the Polar Vortex and Arctic Temperatures

Ok – so it’s not quite arctic out there but the polar vortex has knocked the temperature/wind chill down to -7 and I
qualify that as pretty damn cold. In the wind and snow, it’s important for
the Ninja and I to make sure our animals are well-cared for and as comfortable
as possible.

In extreme cold [ahem, polar vortex], all of our horses are blanketed during the day and night.
We also have shelter for them to get out of the wind and snow (although I have
seen them stand in a snowstorm several times instead of the barn).

My handsome compadre, Doc.
What I wasn’t expecting when I went out to blanket and feed horses yesterday morning was for Rooster (the dog) to chase Rooster (the horse) and another horse through a fence. Resetting and wiring panels was not on my agenda, nor was trudging after two horses through drifted snow with a feed bucket [that’s a great workout, for anyone interested]. 

Buzzard = not impressed. Check out Friday and Rooster enjoying their [temporary] freedom.
It didn’t last long. They are both fine, no injuries after a romp through the fence, btw.

horse and blanket winter
Rooster looking quite dapper in his winter gear

We increase their hay ration during really cold snaps because hay helps produce body heat. Most of the time during the winter, our horses have several hours access to a large round bale of brome hay. However, right now, we’re feeding square bales since I can’t get the truck and trailer out of a drift – wishing I had 4WD right about now!

See? Rooster could be in the barn but chooses to stand behind a bush to get a windblock!

In addition to blanketing, providing shelter and extra hay for the horses, we also have to make sure they have plenty of water. Because horses prefer warm water in the winter, we have a water tank with a heating element in the bottom. If we give cold water, in addition to an increased amount of hay, we could end up with colicking horses – which is no bueno – so the heating element keeps the water warm to the touch and keeps the horses drinking as much as they want. I tried to take a picture of the steam coming off it but my iPhone photography skills must not be up to snuff.

heated water tank winter Kansas
Our watertank with the heating element – there was steam coming out of the tank!
Hopefully, those two don’t tear up my horse blankets!

When it’s this cold, we let the dogs sleep inside at night. And we I
spoil the crap out of them with fluffy dog beds, lots of treats and playtime. Look at my adorable, fluffy companions – how can I tell them no?

Rooster and Cricket – frenemies for life. Seriously, Rooster is not digging the fact that Cricket keeps attacking him during his naps and has taken up residence on his dog bed.

How are you keeping your animals warm during this super cold winter and the polar vortex? Let’s hope this is the last occurrence [although I highly doubt it].

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~



3 responses to “Caring for Our Animals in the Polar Vortex and Arctic Temperatures”

  1. Brandi,

    Aren't animals funny sometimes (or they at least think they are)? At home on the farm, dad always provides extra bedding to the cattle and goats to lay down in. With higher wind chills like this, it is necessary to shut the doors most of the day for the goats and put up extra wind blocks with round bales of cornstalks for the cattle. However, the animals sometimes just want to be outside and stand in the sun. I know I wouldn't!
    I think we pamper the animals more than we do ourselves at times — but it certainly makes you feel good.

    Stay warm!

  2. Hey Brandi! Glad you guys are enjoying some warm weather lol – it was -30 Celsius here yesterday plus a windchill, not sure how cold but it was cold!

    We never blanket the horses – in this extreme weather it is actually harder on them because they can't regulate their own temperatures between warm-ups and cool-downs and it keeps them from growing a proper winter coat. But we do give them extra hay for increased body heat, as well as heated water! Cows get extra feed, and sometimes bedding but they prefer to go lay in the trees anyways.

    Ralph (resident orange cat) prefers warmer temps and is inside when we are home, but during the day when we are gone he sleeps in a doghouse with a heated blanket!

    Stay warm and Happy New Year!


  3. Caroline, I agree! It gives me a warm feeling (no pun intended) when I know that our animals are fed and well-cared for even if they decide to stand outside!

    Angela – how are you? Thanks for dropping by! I usually don't blanket either but these are the coldest temperatures we've had in several years and I just couldn't bear it knowing they were standing outside (we dont' have a stall barn, just a small shelter barn) in -15 wind chill. That being said, it's supposed to crack 35 today and I'll take the blankets off and hopefully not have to put them back on! The dogs are going back outside too!

    Hope all is well with you and Matt and Ralph 🙂