Brace Yourselves Stock Show Kids… Winter is Coming!

After spending 5 years managing a horse farm in the Texas Panhandle, I have come to greatly appreciate our mild Florida winters! Although it’s pretty unlikely that any of us will be busting ice 3-5 times per day in negative temperatures and snow, our livestock still require some extra care through the winter months.

According to the National Weather Service (NOAA) predictions, we can expect temperatures to be slightly above the average normal for this time of year and less precipitation than normal, as a result of the La Niña weather pattern.

The #1 Thing for All Livestock: Water

During the winter, livestock may decrease their water intake due to the cooler temperatures. An easy way to help ensure that your animals drink water throughout the day is to add a little salt to their feed. You can use simple table salt that you get from the grocery store. It’s important not to give them too much. When you add it to their feed, think about salting a meal for your whole family, like soup. You don’t want the soup to be too salty, you want it just right. If an average person weighs about 150 lb, a 1,000 lb horse or steer weighs the same as about 6.5 people! So salt your animal’s feed accordingly based on that logic.

How do I know if my animal is drinking enough?

For many of us, using automatic waterers is a way to take one less thing off our plates when it comes to caring for our animals. The downside to automatic waterers is that we can’t tell how much our animals are drinking. On cold days or when you may be concerned your animal isn’t getting enough water, it may be wise to disconnect your automatic waterers and use buckets or troughs so that you can gauge how much your animal is drinking. Horses and cattle need an average of 10 gallons of water a day, swine need an average of 4 gallons per day, and market sheep will need 2-3 gallons per day. A safe way to estimate the needs of your animal is to assume they need about 1 gallon per 100 lb of body weight.

Special Considerations for Swine

Our swine friends are the neediest of the typical livestock species when it comes to winter care. This is because they lack dense hair coats like the other species, so we have to work a little harder to keep them comfortable in cool weather. To help keep them warm, provide them with shelter to block the wind, some sort of shavings, and a heat lamp where they bed down to sleep at. All of these things will help keep them warm and aid in the prevention of illness!

Special considerations for Horses

Good news! Unless you’re planning to show your horses in the winter to early spring months (December – March), your horse can probably survive comfortably without much help from you. However, if you ARE planning to enter the show ring, your horse suddenly becomes needier than our swine friends.
In the show ring (particularly hunter and western performance classes), a sleek coat is more appealing to the judge than a fuzzy winter coat. We can manage our horses’ coats and help them to shed early (if you’re starting now) or keep them from growing a winter coat at all [if you start(ed) in early-mid November)!

Managing Your Horse’s Winter Coat

In November, the time changed so that it started getting dark earlier. Did you find yourself feeling sleepy a little earlier than normal? Horse coat growth is regulated by the hormone “melatonin”, which you may recognize as a supplement used for helping people sleep. The same hormone that makes us sleepy, regulates coat growth in horses. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland. Secretion of melatonin is regulated by sunlight. When sunlight enters the eye, the information is translated to the pineal gland to decrease melatonin secretion. In darkness, melatonin is secreted freely by the pineal gland. As the days get shorter in the fall, decreased melatonin secretion results in increased coat growth to help keep the horse warm through the coming winter. As days lengthen again in the spring, they begin to shed their winter coats.

In order to manage your horse’s coat growth, all you need is a little light! It’s important to make sure that the entire area where they stay overnight is well lit. This might mean building a small catch pen if your horses are on pasture. The light doesn’t need to be on at all times, your horse just needs to be exposed to light for 16-18 hours per day. For example, if the sun comes up at 7 AM and sets at 6 PM, your lights would need to be on from about 5:30 PM until about midnight. To make this more manageable, you can purchase lights with timers that can be set to come on and turn off when needed. You may also consider blanketing your horse. The horse probably doesn’t truly need it, but it can give you some peace of mind that they’re not cold, especially if there is a freeze.

Forage Availability for Grazing Animals

If you raise cattle or sheep, your responsibilities are pretty low for winter maintenance. One problem you might run into, however, is forage availability, especially for pasture-kept stock. During the winter months, it’s important that these animals have enough forage to meet their nutritional requirements. Additionally, their nutrition requirements may increase and you may notice your animals eating more when temperatures are low. This is because the digestion of forage aids in keeping the body temperature of animals up and helps them stay warm.

Temperatures don’t fall enough to worry much about adverse effects on the health of cattle, sheep, and horses, as long as they consume adequate water and forage. Their dense coats provide plenty of warmth from the mild winters in Florida. However, if you are concerned about the comfort of your animal on the colder days of the winter, you can always provide them with heat lamps, extra bedding and/or blankets to help them stay warm.

Good luck getting your animals through this winter! If you have any questions about caring for your animal, you can always reach out to your club leader, local extension professional, or veterinarian!

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Posted: December 28, 2021


Category: 4-H & Youth, Curriculum, Livestock
Tags: 4-h Livestock, Cattle Winter Management, Florida Winter Livestock, Horse Coat Management, Swine Winter Management In Florida, Winter Care For Livestock


Comments:

Shayna Chewning

May 5, 2022

Thank you!

hammerstonemarkets
March 1, 2022

Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs every day.

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January 24, 2022

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Komendy w cmd.exe
January 23, 2022

I am constantly searching online for ideas that can assist me. Thank you!

Donna Elmore
January 17, 2022

So if they winter there only, are they considered the same as species that come and stay permanently? I’ve seen them in Yellowstone in spring but didn’t realize they wintered in FL is there a difference in their perception?

Lisa Sanderson

January 7, 2022

Hi Raymond, We planted it in our garden December of 2020 - the temps that December were at 29 in the morning for 5 days and again some in Jan. and the Aster did great! So, I'm assuming it would be fine to plant it now. It bloomed like gangbusters this fall - one grow much more than the others, but all bloomed. Lisa Sanderson

Jeff Rogers
December 31, 2021

great article thanks

Raymond Day
December 22, 2021

Can I plant the Aster now in zone 9a or wait till spring?

Jim Davis

January 21, 2021

Hi Chuck! I am teaching some classes at The Villages Enrichment Academy- Meet Your Local Wildlife. Hope to see you there or maybe one of our upcoming Hikes. 2/5 and 2/19. If interested on the Hikes, email me dvisshdn@ufl.edu Best, Jim

Chuck Windle, M D
January 17, 2021

Liked your notes on whistling ducks. We have some in the Bridgeport Lake Sumter neighborhood on Buena Vista. We enjoy their daily flights over our yard nightly. You can hear who they are. Best wishes, have not seen you for while but none of us have really seen anyone for a while.

laduncan

December 9, 2020

If you use overnight oats, be sure to heat them to steaming before eating them. Technically, it is most safe to cook them before putting them in the refrigerator, but cooked oats get very thick and may need extra liquid.

Lisa Sanderson

December 9, 2020

Hi Shirley, Crape myrtles are typically pruned mid-February and then tips and fruits can be removed rather than heading back to one spot. You can always prune dead, diseased and damaged limbs at any time. Thanks for your question! Lisa

Lisa Sanderson

December 9, 2020

Hi Steve, I'm not sure there is a magic date of dormancy. Dormancy can be on many plants due to lower temperature or a change in the photoperiod or short day length. Even though crape myrtles may have held onto their leaves perhaps longer than they may have in northern states, they too are going dormant. Many hold onto It's best not to prune them unti mid-February and then only doing small pruning of tips or fruit. Thanks for your question! Lisa

Lisa Sanderson

December 9, 2020

Hi Patrick - I believe that this is a duplicate, but if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at lsanderson@ufl.edu. Thank you for your questions! Lisa

Lisa Sanderson

December 9, 2020

Hi Patrick, This is a great question. Ideally, you don't prune your crape myrtles until mid-February rather than a winter pruning. Often folks think they should have their crape myrtles topped each year, but the February pruning should not be a topping sort of cut, but a cut that may remove smaller selected limbs or fruit if needed. Thanks for your question! Lisa

Evelyn Hill
December 8, 2020

I’m a fan of overnight oats that contain the oats as well as almond milk a bit of cinnamon and berries. I usually just heat it a bit in the microwave about 2 minutes the next morning. Is that enough heat or just stop with the overnight oats?

Patrick S Jurgens
November 15, 2020

Looking for somebody experienced with crepe myrtle trees cutting them back for winter time

Patrick S Jurgens
November 15, 2020

Looking for a person experienced in cutting back crepe myrtle trees for winter

Steve
October 27, 2020

When is dormant session in Florida? Thank you,

Shirley Anderson
October 25, 2020

Hello. I live in Apopka, FL. I have 2 Crape Myrtle trees in poor shape. When and where on the trees should I prune? I have a photo. Thanks. Shirley Anderson

Jim Davis

June 10, 2020

Hi Gary, Thanks for attending! Here is the link to the What is Biting Me Webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqi3-0EqR0M If you click the UrbanEnt icon, that is my page and you can view or subscribe to look at other recorded webinars. Here is the link to the IFAS Bookstore with info on snakes http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/c-15-natural-resources-and-wildlife.aspx?pagenum=4 Look forward to seeing you in upcoming webinars! Email me at dvisshdn@ufl.edu for any more questions. Thanks! Jim

Gary
June 8, 2020

Jim, Thanks for such an informative session about poisonous snakes last Friday! It was my first Zoom experience. Will that session and What's Biting Me? be on YouTube? Also, I did not receive the additional resources in my email (address in field below). And where can I purchase the snake playing cards? Thanks again for a phenomenal presentation!

Jim Davis

May 22, 2020

Hi Ron, Eastern Time; Here are upcoming webinars. You can view YouTube webinars at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhmmmlFbJG8&t=3s My channel is UrbanEnt to view more videos May 26 at 1:00 pm Dr. Faith Oi and myself will be presenting on Keeping Bugs and Rats out of your house. Dr. Oi is a world-renowned urban entomologist and the director of UF/IFAS Pest Management University. We will cover rats, cockroaches, ants and simple exclusion techniques. Throughout Florida and the U.S., we are seeing a resurgence of these pests during this time. Is your landscape rat proof? Find out! Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/97733306825 May 29 at 1:00 pm I will be presenting on Common Mammals in the Landscape. I will be going over raccoons, opossums, armadillos, squirrels and more! I will share some interesting facts about some of these critters. Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/92369361489 June 2 at 11:00 am, Brooke Moffis (UF/IFAS Extension Lake County agent) and I will be presenting on “What’s Biting Me?”. Brooke and I will go over some common biting/stinging insects and arthropods and teach you what to look out for. Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/92053892707 We look forward to having you. Please log on early. Webinars max out at 100 attendees.

Jim Davis

May 22, 2020

Hi Wanda, Hi Barbara, Here are upcoming webinars. You can view YouTube webinars at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhmmmlFbJG8&t=3s My channel is UrbanEnt to view more videos May 26 at 1:00 pm Dr. Faith Oi and myself will be presenting on Keeping Bugs and Rats out of your house. Dr. Oi is a world-renowned urban entomologist and the director of UF/IFAS Pest Management University. We will cover rats, cockroaches, ants and simple exclusion techniques. Throughout Florida and the U.S., we are seeing a resurgence of these pests during this time. Is your landscape rat proof? Find out! Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/97733306825 May 29 at 1:00 pm I will be presenting on Common Mammals in the Landscape. I will be going over raccoons, opossums, armadillos, squirrels and more! I will share some interesting facts about some of these critters. Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/92369361489 June 2 at 11:00 am, Brooke Moffis (UF/IFAS Extension Lake County agent) and I will be presenting on “What’s Biting Me?”. Brooke and I will go over some common biting/stinging insects and arthropods and teach you what to look out for. Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/92053892707 We look forward to having you. Please log on early. Webinars max out at 100 attendees.

Jim Davis

May 22, 2020

Hi Barbara, Here are upcoming webinars. You can view YouTube webinars at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhmmmlFbJG8&t=3s My channel is UrbanEnt to view more videos May 26 at 1:00 pm Dr. Faith Oi and myself will be presenting on Keeping Bugs and Rats out of your house. Dr. Oi is a world-renowned urban entomologist and the director of UF/IFAS Pest Management University. We will cover rats, cockroaches, ants and simple exclusion techniques. Throughout Florida and the U.S., we are seeing a resurgence of these pests during this time. Is your landscape rat proof? Find out! Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/97733306825 May 29 at 1:00 pm I will be presenting on Common Mammals in the Landscape. I will be going over raccoons, opossums, armadillos, squirrels and more! I will share some interesting facts about some of these critters. Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/92369361489 June 2 at 11:00 am, Brooke Moffis (UF/IFAS Extension Lake County agent) and I will be presenting on “What’s Biting Me?”. Brooke and I will go over some common biting/stinging insects and arthropods and teach you what to look out for. Zoom Webinar link: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/92053892707 We look forward to having you. Please log on early. Webinars max out at 100 attendees.

Ron Houser
May 8, 2020

Is the 1pm time Eastern or Central time? Please specify. Some of us ar on Central time.

Wanda
May 3, 2020

UF IFAS Sumter County Master Gardeners Chat Conversation Start Jim Davis, I have been watching the zoom webinars by UF on Fridays at 1 p.m. and really wanted to see the one on birds this past Friday but could not connect. You had promoted these on April 6 on the Entomology FB page. I know they changed the zoom meeting account number the Friday before but neither the new or the old meeting number worked. Can you help me? Also is there as way to still watch what I missed on the bird program? Anyone's assistance would be be appreciated! The new zoom meeting number I had was 441950330 The original number was 92836621685

Tim Momol
April 29, 2020

good job! thanks

Lisa Sanderson

April 17, 2020

Hi Sylvia, Yes, suckers that are coming from the base of a crape myrtle can be removed. Sometimes they may come up due to topping the crape myrtle in the fall, and some varieties that are shrub-like tend to try to return to their previous growth habit.

Barbara Wertz
April 15, 2020

Did you record these Zoom events? Are they posted on Youtube?

Sylvia
April 9, 2020

I too am new to the area and was told by my neighbor that the huge tree in the yard is a white crape myrtle. There are many thin branches coming up from the base. Are they considered to be suckers -and should they be removed? Thank you

Kathryn Lujano
March 11, 2020

I have a small crepe Myrtle tree and all the tiny branches look dead. It has dead looking berries on the top also. Should I cut that off? It’s here in California months of early March.

Lisa Sanderson

November 30, 2019

Hi Gail, You can prune dead, diseased or crossing limbs at any time, but its best to do pruning during the dormant season. You may notice some people have their crape myrtles topped which is an undesirable method of pruning. It can result in excessive sprouts from the base and a plant that takes longer to flower. Topping results in many sprouts emerging out of the cut limbs. Often crape myrtles don't need any pruning but you can remove the seed clusters. Crape myrtles may flower from perhaps late spring/early summer to late summer depending on the cultivar. They will not flower again until next year, and the leaves should drop so the structure of the crape myrtle should be more apparent. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Gail
November 28, 2019

We’re new to FL and crepe Myrtle trees. Do I prune heavy branches where it appears little flowers or berries are brown. They look dried up. How far back do you prune? Thank you

Jim Davis

November 10, 2018

Hi Linda, Try http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/gopher-tortoise/rules-and-regulations/ Best, Jim

Linda Phipps
October 31, 2018

Hi Jim...we have a home at 17743 Lake Lucy Lane in Groveland Florida. The land above us has been sold for development of 500 to 700 homes. There are dozens maybe a hundred gopher tortoises on that property that will be bulldozed under unless someone steps in. There are also pileated woodpeckers and our octagenerian neighbor now deceased told us a small Indian burial ground is located by a pecan grove next to the Lake. I just need some contacts and I thank you for your affection for beautiful gopher tortoises. Keep up the good work. Linda Phipps 561 289 3478 master gardener.

Jim Davis

September 19, 2018

Hi Joyce, I would contact FWC http://myfwc.com/ to see what you can do with the collapse burrow. With the female, I would let nature take its course. Hopefully, the little ones will do ok. Best, Jim Davis dvisshdn@ufl.edu

Joyce Olcott
September 16, 2018

What do I do if the gopher tortoise’s burrough has caused my ground to collapse? I had three small gardens and with the rain, and the burrough directly below, it has caused my grass and ground to collapse...also I had a female lay eggs that should be hatching in the next few weeks. Is there anything I need to do for the little ones?

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