For those of us having animals living outside, it’s extremely important to have their living quarters winterized before cold weather sets in. Prepping is much easier when the sun is shining than if it’s already starting to snow or those cold north winds are making it difficult to attach the polyethylene to the fence.
While animals have the natural abilities to somewhat survive the climate, they often times will fair better if we help them with just the basic protection. Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Dogs – Many of us have dogs outside year round. To ensure their comfort, put down fresh hay or a type of absorbent material in their sleeping areas. This will keep your dog from getting muddy in the wet times of snow or rain. It also helps them retain body heat during the cold nights. Covering the top of their pen and the outside walls with a polyethylene to reflect wind and other harsh weather. Be sure to attach is securely so it won’t take flight during bouts of wind and storms. At the very least, have a dog house and cover the entrance with a towel attached at the top of the entrance to keep the air out.
- Cats – If your feline isn’t one to stay indoors, provide somewhere they can retreat at night or bad weather. Something as simple as a plastic tub with an opening in one end and turn upside down can keep your cat warm an dry. Placing a brick on top to prevent it from blowing over will stabilize the container as well. Also, putting hay or a type of bedding inside will help keep them warm.
- Chickens – With the daylight being reduced in the winter, you will notice your hens will reduce their laying of eggs to a bare minimum. This is because hens need at least 8 hours of sunlight to produce eggs. (who knew!) To “trick” the ladies into laying more eggs, install a light and a timer in their coop. Have the light come on a couple of hours before sun down and have it stay on for a couple of hours after sun down and this should increase their laying production. Keep their coops clean and fresh straw on a regular basis.
- Wild Birds – If you will notice birds will feed more often prior to colder weather trying to build up a little bulk for warmth. Placing feeders in your yard will help birds to find food easily especially when snow and ice covers everything. Bird Suet provides them will the extra energy needed to maintain weight and body heat.
- Squirrels – You either love them or you hate them. You probably are not at all fond of them when they are into your bird feeders. Some people have found if they place dried corn in another area of their yard opposite of the bird feeders helps reduce the visits to the bird feeder. Let me know if you if have any creative solutions and be nice!
Remember to keep clean water bowls filled with fresh water. The water freezes in their bowls and dogs and cats can become dehydrated as well. If the weather becomes horribly cold, try to find a warmer place for them like a garage.