People often ask me how cold is too cold for the livestock? I will aim my response at cattle and goats.
In my opinion, the answer greatly depends upon the condition of the animal. An animal in good body condition, with a nice winter coat, no present illnesses, can do well in lower temperatures. I even believe, similar to our local Mennonites that urge their children to play outside in the winter, animals are healthier when they romp outdoors throughout various seasons.
The general rule of thumb for outdoor temperature safety is 32 degrees. With a lack of wind, sunshine, and no snow or rain in the picture, animals can be comfortable at 32 degrees. When the temperature drops below that point, ensure the animals have a place where they can take shelter to warmer when needed.
If it is raining, the rule of thumb is 60 degrees. This does not mean that the animals cannot be left in the pasture at 59 degrees, on a day with light sprinkles. When the temperatures drop below 60 degrees, and the coat of an animal becomes wet (down to the skin), it becomes more difficult for them to retain their body heat. Adequate shelter, such as a lean to, should be provided.
In the winter, animals have difficulty browsing and grazing, so quality hay is more important. Grain is a good additive, but quality hay is what keeps the animal warm. The better quality hay, the better a ruminant animal is able to regulate their own body temperatures.
A few more words...livestock generally do not shiver. When they shiver, they might be too cold, or could be ill. There are exceptions to this rule. I do have one full grown nubian doe that shivers every morning, but only because she is excited to get outdoors. Newborn animals cannot retain their own body heat very well, and they are susceptible to frostbite, the outlines above are for animals that are well on their feet.
The picture above was taken from my office winter last winter. Today the girls are indoors, the windchill is in the single digits, with snow flurries.
I plan to get back into the soap room tomorrow. I need about 7 new batches of lotions on the shelves by Monday. That is my goal date for the website addition. I had to run to town today, picked up new stick blenders. I have a habit of dropping them on the floor. That is quite the no-no on a concrete shop floor!
Take care...stay warm!!!