Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter Ice in Texas

Now if you've read my blog for any while you will already know that I grew up in the lush tropical jungle where ice was just something you really wanted to have in your glass of water. However, now living in Texas ice is something that falls from the sky about once or twice a year, usually at about the time when all the fruit trees have started to think that it's spring and the blossoms have begun to bloom.
At the exact moment, that is exactly what has happened in the area where I live. The schools have all shut down, there are very few cars on the road and everything is frozen.
Growing up in a jungle, I never really knew what to expect in a situation like this, but having lived here long enough I have come up with a few tips for keeping animals safe and well cared for even in an ice storm.
I consider the most important part keeping them warm, enough food and water they can actually drink (as opposed to a block of ice). The food part is pretty obvious and when it's cold they can warm up by having enough hay or food. Make sure they have plenty and it's edible.
Water part is also pretty self explanatory. The best option is to have heaters in your water tanks. If you are like me and haven't gotten that far yet then make sure you crack the ice enough for them to be able to get a drink. A lot of times animals won't drink as much if the water is cold. I like to give mine warm water to drink if possible and usually end up carrying about 20 buckets of hot water to thaw out their tanks. They do appreciate it and give me happy looks in reward for my slave labor.
The shelter is very important too especially if you have old animals, or young animals. Sometimes the really old or young can't regulate their body temperatures very well and if they are out in the cold wind or rain they are unable to get warm. A roof and 3 walls are adequate in most situations, depending on the animals.
Chickens sometimes get frost bite on their combs if they can't get warm. One way if you only have a few chickens is to put a thin layer of petroleum jelly on their combs to form a protective layer against the cold. Heat lamps also work to help keep the edge off the cold. Of course when using a heat lamp, make sure the animals can't actually touch it and that it can't be knocked down to cause a fire. Plenty of hay, straw, shavings or other bedding can also help keep the animals warm and they will appreciate and dry place to stand.
Of course always stock up on extra feed and hay before an oncoming storm system!

Hope this helps give you a few ideas to keep your animals safe and warm.

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