Support for Livestock Producers: The Government of Alberta has recently announced that drought-stricken livestock producers will be eligible for millions of dollars in financial relief and will benefit from new rangeland initiatives that will improve access to water and grazing. For more information, please see www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=7966722273381-D712-69FD-A5A64F8C463D0F2D.
Forage Corn and Fertilizer: Strategies for 2022 Webinar. Join us on February 1, 2022 for a noon hour webinar that delves into the agronomy and use of forage corn for livestock grazing, plus a look at how the global markets impact the regional crop input supplies, and what you can do. This webinar is hosted in collaboration with Grey Wooded Forage Association. Learn more about this webinar and register by clicking here.
Working Well Workshop. March 15 at 6:30 pm. This free online workshop hosted by Clearwater County will give landowners information about drilling, maintaining, troubleshooting, and monitoring private water wells. Click here to register.
Environmental Stewardship Award. This program was initiated by the Clear Water Landcare Board to recognize contributions made by families, individual landowners, or community members. If you know someone who may be suitable to receive this award, please contact 403-846-4040 or email@example.com for a nomination form or more information. Deadline is February 22nd.
Join the Landcare email list. Are you interested in grant programs and new funding opportunities, virtual events, workshops, webinars, and receiving educational articles or video links relating to healthy and sustainable water and land? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your email address to be
Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Webinars and Workshops: Join an upcoming EFP webinar to learn why your farm would benefit from having an EFP, learn tips to completing your workbook, and ask questions to program staff and EFP technicians. Join an upcoming workshop to walk through the first 2 chapters of your EFP workbook with the help of an EFP Technician. These can be found on their EFP calendar https://www.albertaefp.com/efp-program/event-calendar/ and on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AlbertaEFP. Informational webinar dates include: Feb 1st and 9th. Workshop dates include: Feb 2nd and 10th.
AG NEWS - RECENT ARTICLE
January 25, 2022 - Concerned About Your Horse Staying Warm This Winter?
Odds are, you might be worrying for no reason.
Most farmers have daily chores that need doing regardless of the nature of the weather. Exposed to the elements at -30C, bitterly cold winds can cut through multiple layers of clothing in seconds, chilling the hardiest to the bone.
Struggling to keep warm, our next thought is often about our livestock and how they are faring. Have we done enough to protect them from the harsh reality of an Alberta winter?
Sharing a closer bond with our equine pals, the natural tendency is to be overprotective, partly because we can, not necessarily because we need to.
That overprotective feeling can often lead horse owners to do things with the best of intentions that sometimes do more harm than good. Unnecessary blanketing and over feeding are good examples.
Horses are remarkably well adapted to stay warm throughout winter even when temperatures plunge into the double digits.
As Carol Swetz DVM stated in a recent article, “to the degree that husbandry practices remove the horse from its natural lifestyle and put it into working situations, the natural abilities of the horse to thermoregulate and remain comfortable remain compromised.”
As days get shorter in the fall horses naturally produce increasing amounts of melatonin which stimulates hair growth. Longer winter hair stands up, trapping air pockets between hairs, much like a down comforter.
Equines have the muscular ability to adjust the angle of each hair as they turn their backs toward oncoming weather, long tail tucked to protect their underside and head down in line with the body, shielded from the wind.
Blanketing flattens the hair coat against the horse’s body and if left on for too long, causes the muscles controlling individual hairs to atrophy and the horse loses its ability to adjust hair stand.
Natural oils in the coat help to shed moisture assuming they have not been washed out with detergent. Moisture naturally freezes on the outer surface of the hair coat, never reaching the skin. Snow on a horse’s back is a good sign that all is working as it should.
The horse’s feet and legs are another remarkable adaption to the northern winter climate. With no muscle mass below the knee and hock the lower leg is mostly tendon and bone with few energy requiring tissues.
With a mass of veins throughout the lower leg, including the frog and digital cushion, each time a foot takes weight blood is pumped back up the limb.
Strong blood flow also creates a hydraulic fluid cushion like a gel pad protecting the foot so that horses can stand in deep snow without feeling cold.
Designed to dissipate heat in summer and warm incoming air in winter, the horse’s respiratory system assures that no cold harsh air reaches the lungs and so frostbite is rare.
As hind gut fermenters horses have their own internal furnace. If they have access to a steady supply of roughage, such as grass or hay, that slow microbial breakdown provides them with plenty of internal heat.
Horses are happiest when grazing and pawing for feed. Regular movement assists their huge circulatory system to move heat around the body. If they are feeling chilled they will chase each other around, frolicking and bucking about to warm up.
Nature has designed them to gain weight through the summer and gradually lose wight through the winter.
The thin-fat-thin-fat cycle is better for horses than fattening them up in the fall and trying to overfeed them to keep the weight on through the winter months.
Exceptions invariably arise when dealing with elderly, or physically challenged horses. Supplemental feed with high fat content, shelter and blanketing may be necessary to get the older horse through the winter.
That said, a steady supply of good quality hay, mineral and simple shelter from the cold winter wind is all that is required. Thousands of years of evolution have provided our equine friends with all they need to brave the elements.