Submitted by Steve on 17:22, 11th Jan, 2016 | 0

As we all know, winter is Guernsey is often wet and windy and this can cause problems for animals, especially if they are not used to it.  The GSPCA receives many calls from concerned members of the public about livestock during the winter months.  So far this winter has been exceptionally wet resulting in large areas grazing being covered with standing water and land becoming rapidly poached as livestock walk upon it.

Horses should have access to a shelter and/or be suitably rugged.  However, it is important to remember that some hardy breeds of horses may not need rugging and some will not keep a rug on.  Some horses are bred for and used to being outdoors all year round and it would be detrimental to their welfare to keep them stabled, however, other, slighter breeds may need more shelter and warmth provided.

Donkeys don’t have coats that are as waterproof a horses because they produce less oil.  For this reason donkeys should have access to a shelter and/or be suitably rugged. 

All animals should have the option to shelter, but these shelters can be manmade, such as a shed or rug, or natural, such as hedges, trees or walls.  An animal that is out in a field with little shelter during the day may be brought in at night time, allowing hoofs time to dry.  All animals must be able to escape mud and standing water if they want to.

David Chamberlain the States Veterinary Officer said that “Animals kept outdoors must have access to food and usually have greater food requirements in cold wet weather.  Animals such as cows, sheep, goats and horses ferment fodder in their stomachs or guts which itself generates lots of heat, much like a compost heap, which keeps the animals warm.  If they haven’t got access to sufficient food then they may struggle to keep warm.

Very cold weather and possibly snow have been forecast for the end of the weekend and the start of next week.  Owners who live some distance from where their animals are at pasture need to make sure that they have made contingency plans for people close to their animals to provide care if they cannot get to them.”

While the GSPCA understands that many of the animals outside during adverse weather are being well cared for, it is important that owners pay attention to the state of their fields.  Many fields in Guernsey do become waterlogged in the winter and steps need to be taken to ensure welfare does not suffer as a result of this.  For example, the animals may be placed on a small section of land to allow other areas to recover, or the animals may only be put out for part of the day.  In severe cases owners will need to find alternative grazing to allow fields to recover.

For help and advice or if you have any concerns about any animals during adverse weather conditions please call 257261 or email [email protected].

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