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Author Topic: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.  (Read 616 times)

Megansman

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Hi all,

Like many states we have had record cold this month. Lots of snow and wind driving wind chills as low as -26 F. I have been feeding more than twice the normal amounts and keeping first cutting available all the time so our three horses are eating and digesting to keep warm. We have good cover from wind with our barn with lots of cement and extended roofs . I admit that I kept all three horses in their stalls overnight on three nights as well. To make these decisions harder is that the horses are so different. My wife has an Icelandic that lives to eat and is hairy and fat. My Rocky, Sorcerer, came from down south but has adapted very well to our winters so he is like a teddy bear and almost as fat as Janet's mare. My worry is My TWH mare, Megan. She has always been a hard keeper and I keep real close watch on her. She is as ready as I have been able to get her for this weather. I can feel but not see her ribs. She never shivers and seems to be doing fine, so far.

How are you folks dealing with our global warming so far??? Any suggestions?

Paul
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KysaSD

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2014, 07:45:35 pm »

Paul, I think you are doing everything right.  And the biggest key is hay in the hindgut.  The bacteria that digest that create a lot of heat, and that is what keeps horses warm.  Shelter in wind is a big key, and y are also providing that.  Short of moving everyone to Southern California, I don't think you can do much more.
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Kysa, South Dakota, 2 Mountain Horses, a Curly Foxtrotter, a TWH and a Mini, yes, I am crazy!

Cashela

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2014, 07:46:56 pm »

I was hoping Kysa would post for you! :D

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Jenn-New Hampshire

Iceangel

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2014, 07:48:41 pm »

I have 3 Icies here near St Paul Mn and they are loving it. It amazes me how well most horses or any livestock do in these frigid temps. Then there is the should I or should I not blanket controversy. My girls don't need to be but it would be a hard call if I had different horses.
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Megansman

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2014, 09:03:10 pm »

Thanks for the encouragement and advice, ladies! I must admit that the hidden ice under the powder snow ( about a foot deep ) has made riding almost impossible this winter. Sorce and I got into trouble last winter when we fell hard on ice we didn't know was there. My knee surgeon gave me heXX for stress testing my knee replacements !  We  haven't ridden in more than a month and we both miss it. Grumbling about it is not much relief, though.

Let's hope for an early spring!!

Paul
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dawn_a

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2014, 03:39:48 am »

Boy Paul do I feel your pain!  Yep, it's been one of the coldest winters in Michigan since back in the 90's when I lived in the Upper Peninsula.  It's shocked me how cold it's been in SW Michigan this winter - I didn't expect to feel temps down to twenty or thirty below in this area!

Sure sounds like you are doing everything right with your horses.  Don't feel too guilty about leaving them in some nights.  Remember, there are a lot of horses out there who don't even go OUT in those frigid temps!  You're doing the things that any responsible horse owner should be doing, and sounds like your horses are doing fine in it.  Like Kysa said, the keys are plenty of extra hay and shelter from the wind.  Megan *might* benefit from a blanket, but maybe not.  Totally depends on your situation.  But if she's not shivering and seems relaxed and comfortable, I wouldn't worry about her. 

Just as a frame of reference, our Icelandics and friends Icelandics have gotten through temps of up to -50 w/ windchill with just three sided shelters and plenty of hay.  They're tough little beasts!  Most healthy horses who have had time to acclimate to the conditions will be fine as long as they have plenty of hay, fresh water (preferably not ice cold though), and shelter from the wind.

Dawn
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PAWalker

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2014, 05:59:53 am »

Keep reminding me why I chose to retire to southern Middle Tennessee from a life on the OH/PA border and that wasn't near as bad as life in Michigan - lol

Still in all, we have had enough of our share of the Polar Vortex that I am breathing a sigh of relief no pipes froze and the blessed furnace kept running.  Mr. PA's truck sits outside and it even got plugged in a couple nights, when the wind chill went close to -20 :'(

It sounds like you've got the feeding program under control but some ideas to keep in mind, especially with your TWH that's a bit of a hard keeper:

1.  Put everyone on a high quality probiotic to help their digestive tracts.  Don't buy some cheap stuff that is full of fillers.  I use Probios on three of my four horses.

2.  Tractor Supply carries Standlees bagged forage products.  I think they are based in Minnesota, so maybe you have access  to Standlees at your local feed store.  I feed my two geriatrics (26 and coming 28) well mushed timothy/alfalfa cubes.  This time of year, you can soak the cubes in hot water, at the house for 30 minutes or so and they should be ok without you having to finish mushing them by hand.

1-1/2 pounds of dry cubes equals about five pounds of wet matter, once you add the water.

3.  Keep their water heated and keep white salt blocks out.  Even though my horses all lick off the salt blocks, I have been adding two teaspoons of human Sea salt, daily (two feedings) to encourage them all to drink more water.

This forum seems to be firmly divided as to leave horses out or bring them in.  Do what you feel is right for your horses.  If I left my horses out 24/7 in this weather, two would be close to needing a grave site and #3 wouldnt' be doing to well either.
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Hatcherdm

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2014, 06:32:44 am »

I think you are doing an awesome job, and when in doubt, err on the side of coddling them! We don't have near the freezing temps in the negative double digits, but have a really impressive wind here in southern York county Pa, and my dry lot does not have a shelter. The 4 icelandics don't mind the cold temps, but they weary of the stiff wind-- so when temps drop in single digits, I put them in the stalls. These guys all have thick hair that curls when it is really cold (really cute to see) so blankets are not needed. The "King" is another story--my 25 year old TWH is a hard keeper, and will chill, so he gets his blanket when it drops below 20 degrees. I am not a fan of horsey jails but sometimes a short
lockup is the better of 2 evils....they even seem to enjoy my husband giving them his speech about behavior on "The Rock" whilst they are incarcerated!!
Stay warm, spring will get here someday...
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Diane from New Freedom, Pa
home to 4 icelandics and 1 TWH

gallatingal

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2014, 07:02:04 am »

My horses have free access to their stalls, they can come and go whenever they want and we now have the open doors on the side where the prevailing wind does not come in. They have chosen to stay in their stalls on these chilly nights. My mare who normally does not "go potty" in her stall has been creating a wall of horse poop every night. (which I have practically had to have a pick to get it out) and it is not nearly as cold here in TN as it has been up there. So no need to feel guilty about locking them up.  ;) I'm sure if they could talk they would say "I'm not going out there!"
The only one with a blanket on is the 4 month old colt, who got sick about a month ago and the vet recommended a blanket. He is fine now, but I am not sure I can take it off of him now that he is used to it.
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Life is short, buy the pony!

Cowgirl Up

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2014, 06:22:22 pm »

Sounds like you right on. Tempts here in PA are at all time lows. I have run in sheds plus stalls. I put my horses in stalls three nights in row with wind chill below -15.
Think Spring
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craftcorral

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2014, 02:38:32 pm »

I have been dealing with the cold much the same.  One thing I have changed is that I've been soaking Ranger's feed in warm water and make a one gallon batch of "broth" for his breakfast and dinner.  He loves it and right off the bat, I know I'm getting one gallon of warm water into him morning and night.  I have also been adding loose salt because he is not one to mess with salt blocks very much. 

He can come and go from his stall so I have a heated water bucket that I top off with hot water when I feed him so it is a nice lukewarm temp when he finishes.  He has a big water trough with a heater outside.  Hay inside and outside.  He also cleans the outside hay up first!

I've also noticed that he is starting to lightly shed!!  I told him that he better slow that train right down with the cold temps that are still coming our way.  But, he is right, the days really are getting longer.  Finally.
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g8ted4me

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2014, 10:34:47 am »

Here in Wisconsin we are dealing with the same.  This bitter, bitter cold is really getting old! We have 2 easy keepers and our old girl at 26 that is a slightly hard keeper now during the winters.  She has a really great coat, but is on the skinny side.  With all of these cold temps, I have been making a warm mash for our old girl, Lady.  I bring out warm water and mix with beet pulp and her grain and she LOVES it.  My other mare gets warm mash as well because last winter she was having frequent colic episodes.  She has been doing really well this winter (knock on wood!) and we have avoided that problem.  We use slow feed hay nets on the ground to keep hay in front of them which has helped alot too.  If it is really cold, I use the slow feed hay nets and loose hay on the ground too. 
Spring can come anytime now...
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~Jen
Wisconsin
Frenesi- Peruvian mare
Mister- Racking gelding
Lady- Kentucky Mt mare

NoRegrets

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2014, 04:57:08 am »

There's another arctic snap passing through here again.  I put the blanket back on my mare.  Soaked cubes, sometimes soaked beet pulp helps I think.  Frozen buckets, and a frozen back barn door along with a large area of my driveway having snow covered ice are just some of the joys of winter.  Thankfully I have enough hay to feed.
It hasn't been this cold for this length of time, in a long while.  The other day it was 20 degrees and I was starting to sweat.  Guess you can get used to anything.  Come on Spring.
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Debbie

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Re: Coldest in my time in Michigan and horse health in low wind chills.
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2014, 07:45:05 pm »

I think we all will be glad to see spring. I'm dealing with the same thing cold -low wind chills and more snow this is our second time this week another 15"in. 5 more to day. Second bad storm for next week. I'm thinking about moving. Hehe
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