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keeping babies outside in cold weather

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  • keeping babies outside in cold weather

    I could use some advice on what to do with my babies this winter. Until now I've lived in the lower mainland of BC where it rarely goes below freezing, and when it does, it doesn't stay cold usually for more than a few days or a week. I've always kept my youngsters outside 24/7 with a warm waterproof blanket and they have been fine. Now I have moved to Ottawa, Ontario where it gets REALLY cold, snowy and windy and stays that way for the whole winter. I am trying to figure out the best place to board them for the winter. I will have a weanling and yearling filly that can go out together. Will they be ok if they are outside 24/7? I have the option to keep them at the same place as my riding horse. They would have a small field to themselves and a 12 x 12 shelter with 3 walls. What do others who live in very cold climates do wit their youngsters?
    www.saraalberni.com

  • #2
    Mine stay out with blankets, a large shelter, free choice hay and concentrates/minerals.
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    • #3
      Forte - if they a nice big shelter, they will be ok. You'll notice they really only get a bit chilly when we get a combination of wet + windy + really cold. Other than those odd days, they do just fine.

      That said, unless you want to deal with extremely herdbound, screaming, distracted frantic babies whenever you want to bring one of them in (for trimming/vet/grooming/other), I would strongly advise against turning them out alone, just the two of them. You need a bare minimum of 3, otherwise you're in for a lot of headaches. Putting them out with a small herd would be much better, if that's an option.
      www.jlsporthorsesales.net

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      • #4
        Mine live outdoors 24/7 in northern NV at 4000 feet elevation....we get to well below zero (f) at night for at least 2-3 weeks to a month and well below freezing for several months (usually from late Oct or early Nov through about March). They don't wear blankets but do look like wooly bears or yaks. They do well. If we get spring storms that are just above freezing and are windy so it is very cold rain or nearly sleet along with wind they do occasionally get a bit cold but it is interesting to watch the herd actions at that point....they huddle in a group, butts to the wind and heads down and the cold ones move to the middle where they warm up while ones that are warmer gradually rotate to the outside...no one stays cold for long and they take care of it themselves.
        Colored Cowhorse Ranch
        www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
        Northern NV

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        • #5
          I live near Ottawa too. I would never put on blankets during the winter unless a horse arrive in the middle of the winter from the south with thin coat.

          The temperature up here can change drastically and if you have gave them a chance to adjust they will grow the coat they need and they will be fine as long as they have a good shelter where they will be comfortable to stay if it rains or is very windy. Give them a chance to decide where they feel more comfortable.

          I feel blankets just put the hair down and doesn't give a chance to adjust as they need to the changing temperature. Without blanket it is amazing to see how their coat change when it is cold or warmer.

          I would say blankets only make us feel good.

          Of course if there was no shelter than you have no choice than to put blanket on.

          The more space they have to run around the better as it is important for them to get exercise to develop their bones and muscles.
          Suzanne
          bloomingtonfarm.com
          Breeder of Royal Dutch Sport Horse

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          • #6
            I lived in Gunnison, Colorado (the cold spot in the U.S. about 25% of the time) for 18 years. Babies lived outside 24/7 without blankets. They had south facing run in sheds and free feed hay. As others have noted, it's not the cold that causes the problem, it's if they get wet down to the skin. I hate stalling them when it's cold because they can't move around and generate energy to keep themselves warm. And I don't like blanketing unless there is a specific reason - thin horse, poor winter coat, or really, really wet, cold weather with blowing wind They did give a whole new meaning to wooly yaks, though and didn't shed out until well into April. But, I think the living outside, moving around and free access to hay made for healthier horses in the long run.

            Good luck! If I never see snow and ice again, I'm okay with that
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            • #7
              Hey Sara, they will do fine! Mine are out 24/7 and the ONLY time I have to blanket is sometimes transitioning into fall/spring when it is like +3 and rainy. That will give them a chill quickly! The just above 0 temps and rain is brutal on them, otherwise they handle the -40 temps just fine if they are dry! I have never had any of mine shaking and last winter we had a fair bit of cold for a long period of time and I have both weanlings and 30+ year old. Just offer lots of hay, a shelter/wind break and there won't be any problems. It is amazing the amount of hair they will grow!
              Cindy's Warmbloods
              www.cindyswarmbloods.com Cindy's Warmbloods
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              • #8
                The cold wet is harder on them then dry cold, even extreme cold like -30C. They are unbelievably insulated and warm to the touch at that temp. Only if they are sick, shaved or not being feed enough is it a problem. They also need a bit more fat cover going into winter IMO.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Not blanketing seems to be the norm out here in Ontario, very different than what I'm used to in Langley, BC where it is wet,wet, wet and unblanketed horses often up with rain scald. I was really surprised when I can here and saw all the "naked" horses.
                  www.saraalberni.com

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                  • #10
                    Me too weanlings are out 24/7 in the winter, with shelter, heated water and free choice hay, very rare that I blanket them. And franckly, they are barely using the shelter! Except for pooping What is making a horse cold is rain + wind... -25° on a sunny day, the babies are happy!

                    But, they spend 24/7 outside as early as september, so they have time to grow a winter coat and are prepared to spend the winter outside.
                    Les Écuries d'Automne, Québec, Canada
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
                      Mine live outdoors 24/7 in northern NV at 4000 feet elevation....we get to well below zero (f) at night for at least 2-3 weeks to a month and well below freezing for several months (usually from late Oct or early Nov through about March). They don't wear blankets but do look like wooly bears or yaks. They do well. If we get spring storms that are just above freezing and are windy so it is very cold rain or nearly sleet along with wind they do occasionally get a bit cold but it is interesting to watch the herd actions at that point....they huddle in a group, butts to the wind and heads down and the cold ones move to the middle where they warm up while ones that are warmer gradually rotate to the outside...no one stays cold for long and they take care of it themselves.
                      Originally posted by Equine Reproduction View Post
                      I lived in Gunnison, Colorado (the cold spot in the U.S. about 25% of the time) for 18 years. Babies lived outside 24/7 without blankets. They had south facing run in sheds and free feed hay. As others have noted, it's not the cold that causes the problem, it's if they get wet down to the skin. I hate stalling them when it's cold because they can't move around and generate energy to keep themselves warm. And I don't like blanketing unless there is a specific reason - thin horse, poor winter coat, or really, really wet, cold weather with blowing wind They did give a whole new meaning to wooly yaks, though and didn't shed out until well into April. But, I think the living outside, moving around and free access to hay made for healthier horses in the long run.
                      Ditto these two posts. In my personal experience the babies tend to do a bit better than the adults in below freezing weather. The super-fuzzy coats are the key. They will often be crusted with ice on the tips of the coat yet still warm and dry underneath the crust. You can feel this for yourself.
                      We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others, by their acts. ~Harold Nicolson

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                      • #12
                        As others have noted, horses tolerate cold weather much better than the heat, and this includes foals.

                        Personally, I'm not a big fan of blankets on ANY horse unless they are sick or very old...to me, if a horse needs a blanket, they need to be brought inside.

                        I DO bring my babies in at night in the winter, but my "barn" is more like a shed -- has lots of windows, 2 half-doors, etc. So it's not really any warmer than outside, but it IS drier.

                        And that's why I do it. Babies really want to lie down to sleep, so 6-8hrs in the barn gives them that opportunity. An outdoor shed would work just as well as long as you don't have some bossy older horse pushing them out, but I can't guarantee that.

                        I can tell this is something they really, really want when I see them lying down in the middle of their hay pile instead of eating it.

                        BTW, I live in N. Idaho -- 90 miles south of the Canadian border -- so it can get pretty frosty up here.

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                        • #13
                          Mine live out year round. I do stable occasionally so they get used to it but I think it's way healthier for them to be out as much as possible. Winter horsekeeping in my area is so much easier than summer really. Give them shelter and you are good to go. Here in our hot summers, I worry much more for them.

                          I don't blanket either. They always get yak like coats and they are never cold. I've seen them out in 35F pouring icey rain playing and they are oblivious to that kind of weather.

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                          • #14
                            I did not blanket my weanling once last winter (boarded almost an hour away--just wasn't feasible with no stall access). She and two other weanlings did have a large (deep) run-in shed and a round bale to continuously munch on however. They lived outside 24x7. They also got grain daily.

                            We had a very nasty, cold, windy winter and she emerged in good weight this spring.

                            I think a good shelter and continuous hay is the key, personally.
                            DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post

                              I think a good shelter and continuous hay is the key, personally.
                              Agreed -- AND heated water.

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                              • #16
                                YES! I probably shouldn't assume anything, huh?

                                They had their very own heated, auto-waterer. I guess they had access to minerals/salt too
                                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  They will definitely have heated water and lots of hay at the place I am thinking of keeping them. However, the shelters are not deep, probably just about the same size as a stall. Do you think this would be sufficient on those very cold days?
                                  www.saraalberni.com

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                                  • #18
                                    The shelters will be fine Sara. They really only need a wind break and to keep out of the rain. In the REALLY cold weather (with no wind) they will not go in the shelters and instead be outside trying to catch a sunbeam ;-)
                                    Cindy's Warmbloods
                                    www.cindyswarmbloods.com Cindy's Warmbloods
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                                    • #19
                                      I don't blanket young horses, or bring them in either. I do blanket my older broodmare who lives out 24/7, but the young ones seem very comfortable without.
                                      I never saw them go in their shelter this winter but did see them standing by the wind-break wall often. I really think getting out of the wind is the most important thing, so size of shelter is less important than aspect.

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                                      • #20
                                        You got to love COTH, the OP just got an answer from Winter in Canada. about cold weather.
                                        Cool.

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