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Freezing temps, frost bite and horses-question

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  • Freezing temps, frost bite and horses-question

    This may sound silly but i really wonder.

    Living in Georgia, the temps we have are bitter cold for us.

    Highs in the 20's-30's, low's teens with wind chill in single digits.

    We complain of the cold and worry about horses.

    THEN I read of horses living in the north, outside in temps far below what we experience.

    Mine have sheds to block the wind. Adult horses are blanketed and young ones have thick down-like coats.

    So, what temps can frost bite occur? What temps truly are dangerous for horses to be out?

    My barn is really not any warmer than outside-just less wind.

    Depending on the direction of the wind, the sheds can provide shelter from wind.

    SO...what are your thoughts?

    How can our temps be so worrisome when horses are frolicking in the snow in single digits and below?

  • #2
    You are soooo lucky you are not here

    This is the second day Harry has not gone out. With the wind chill it's -10, and the temps are 9 degrees. If the wind weren't howling and blowing, he would probably want to go out, but right now he has the run of his barn, 2 stalls, aisle, plenty of warm water and hay.

    On the days when it's about 20 and snow on the ground for a cushion, and the wind isn't whipping about, and sunny he LOVES to go out, make snow angels, stand in front of the barn and sleep, or stand inside the barn and eat outside.

    He has a short coat, not clipped, thank God I didn't do that, because we were on our way South for the Winter. He can wait. He wears a liner, a med weight inside, and his high neck wind over that to go out.

    He does know when to come in when it gets too cold. When I had more horses, they went out and enjoyed it, but it was a few counties away, and South, and the weather was nothing like here.

    With sheds, plenty of hay and fresh water they were comfy for about 5-6 hours on the coldest (between 0 and 10).

    I never experienced frost bite on horses, although I am sure if left outside, faces, ears, exposed, long enough it could happen, just like with people. Although we're not, as a rule, as hairy as they are.

    I do know the dogs race out, do their business and tear back in. My job is to make sure the door is open for them before they leap through it......

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    • #3
      When I was a kid, we had a horse at summer camp that had rounded ears. Her ear tips had frozen off. She had come from somewhere out west and it happened there.
      Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

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      • #4
        I don't think I've ever seen a horse with frostbite, even up here in frozen MN.

        http://www.petplace.com/horses/deali...ses/page1.aspx


        Although frostbite in healthy horses is uncommon, certain conditions can place horses at risk. Newborn and old horses are more susceptible to frostbite as are horses that have lost a lot of weight, are lame, have heart problems, are dehydrated or suffer from aberrant sweating.

        "Horses out in extreme cold that are unable to find shelter from the wind, or are unable to stay dry, or are unable to take in adequate calories and forage to generate normal body heat are mostly likely to become victims of frostbite," said Dr. Hackett.


        The best advice in preventing frostbite is to use common sense horse care. Horses that can stay dry, find shelter from the wind, have adequate energy and forage intake, and are allowed to acclimate to the cold gradually – as would normally happen with the change of seasons – can survive bitter cold (minus 20 F to minus 40 F) temperatures quite nicely, even for extended periods of time.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Leather View Post
          I don't think I've ever seen a horse with frostbite, even up here in frozen MN.

          http://www.petplace.com/horses/deali...ses/page1.aspx
          Ive always lived here and the temp without the wind chill can get down to -40. I've had horses for 41 yrs and have never had one suffer frostbite. They have always had a run in that that is three sided windproof and faces so the opening is generally out of the wind. They are not blanketed. They do get free choice hay all winter. My mare gains weight in the winter and has never looked to be cold. Donkey does not like the wind and spends much more time in the run in than the mare.

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          • #6
            I saw a horse at a cutting in Northern WY/Montana area that had lost tops of his ears to frostbite- I think it occurred when we was younger.

            FWIW Most people I have met in the Wyoming area don't blanket their horses, few have much more than the occasional tree line for shelter, and only the lucky ones ever get grain. And most do just fine.

            Comment


            • #7
              According to my very good rancher friends in S. Dakota, well fed horses do not freeze to death nor have much trouble managing extreme cold. Horses in poor condition are in danger. The biggest risk to livestock is to the younger ones...calves or foals born early and a late Spring blizzard comes in. It is the babies that are most susceptible to having their ears freeze also. I would think it would be the truly barbaric lows like -50F or worse that would put horses in danger of frostbitten ears.

              So, the best thing you can do is feed them lots of good hay and they should be fine. I have horses out in this crap too and they just look like puffballs with their coats sticking out and if they need to, they go stand in their shed for a bit. My old stallion is covered as he gets cold as well as an older Arabian broodmare who has trouble keeping weight on. All the other outside horses are naked.

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              • #8
                Yeah, I've met 2 or 3 horses who lost the tips of their ears to frostbite but it happened when they were very young (one was born premature during a winter storm) or due to neglect--being on inadequate pasture/not being fed enough combined with little or no shelter. I know a ton of horses who have done just fine in large pastures with no manmade shelter, certainly no blanketing or grain, and just supplementation of hay in the mountains of CO and NM and in WY, and they all did fine. In fact my SO's horse came from a place in northern WY where there wasn't even a treeline, just little valleys and hollows that they could shelter in, and all those horses were just fine.
                exploring the relationship between horse and human

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                • #9
                  They need free choice hay and access to water. Extra grain does NOT help! It just gives them extra energy. It's the digestion of hay that keeps them warm - they don't call them 'hayburners' for nothing. As long as they have free choice hay and can eat it whenever they want they will stay warm enough. Shelter from the wind is nice. My run-in backs up to the usual wind flow.
                  Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                  Now apparently completely invisible!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                    According to my very good rancher friends in S. Dakota, well fed horses do not freeze to death nor have much trouble managing extreme cold. Horses in poor condition are in danger. The biggest risk to livestock is to the younger ones...calves or foals born early and a late Spring blizzard comes in. It is the babies that are most susceptible to having their ears freeze also. I would think it would be the truly barbaric lows like -50F or worse that would put horses in danger of frostbitten ears.

                    So, the best thing you can do is feed them lots of good hay and they should be fine. I have horses out in this crap too and they just look like puffballs with their coats sticking out and if they need to, they go stand in their shed for a bit. My old stallion is covered as he gets cold as well as an older Arabian broodmare who has trouble keeping weight on. All the other outside horses are naked.
                    DB: I've read SEVERAL articles that all conclude the exact points you have outlined above. I agree with your post.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nanerpus View Post
                      DB: I've read SEVERAL articles that all conclude the exact points you have outlined above. I agree with your post.
                      My friends are in Belle Fouche, SD, and they run both horses and cattle. Nothing annoys my friend more than hearing of stock freezing to death (except babies...they are highly vulnerable to cold) because that really means that they were not receiving decent care.

                      I lived in Watertown, NY, for three winters also and we'd have temps in the -30's at times. I never heard of horses having issues up in that area in those temps that were decently cared for.

                      Some Spanish Mustang breeder friends in Minnesota once spent a night with a newborn foal with him wrapped in several parkas and in their laps huddled in the barn together to keep him alive when he was born in a major blizzard unexpected. He did lose the tips of his ears from that night but did survive to grow into a lovely horse. He was named "Lucky to be alive."

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                      • #12
                        Worse than the cold is the ground frozen into humps so the horses don't want to move around much. Ugh. It goes from fetlock-deep mud to frozen over night. Then it thaws enough for more rain, repeat. Every hoof print has a mini frozen ice puddle in it.

                        So my horses aren't moving around as much as they normally would, and I think it makes them colder. I'm working to solve the mud problem around the barn, but the entire field is frozen into humps.

                        I don't think it gets cold enough here for horses to have much trouble with frostbite, but I was wondering about it today when I went out to clean the run-in shed. Didn't have gloves or a hat, which was stupid. Got a nasty head ache, and my own frostbitten hands were quite painful. It happened years ago, but my fingers will never forget!
                        "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."

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