In February we had the kind of snowstorm we’ve not seen in many years! Our animals were well up for it. Those who are sensitive to cold – like the goats, stayed in their pens and snuggled together warm and dry. Many of them got outside and enjoyed the weather, knowing their straw beds were close by. Most animals have fur, hair or wool that helps keep them warm in two ways. The coat fibres trap dry air near their bodies, while natural oils keep cold water out.
The lanolin in sheep’s wool keeps water out and warmth in. This storm couldn’t penetrate their thick fleeces. Jacob sheep are particularly known as a hardy breed, comfortable in British winter weather.
Horses love to run around in all weather! Their coats grows thicker and longer over the winter which provides insulation for temperatures well below freezing. However, they do prefer to be dry. You might see horses out in the countryside with waterproof coats on in winter – which allows them to stay out all day. On cold wet days, our boys are brought back inside and rubbed dry after a bit of exercise.
Our Shirley is an Angus, a hardy breed native to Scotland. Much like the horses, her large size and thick coat allow her to comfortably endure cold weather, although she is more sensitive to wet conditions. Also, like horses, cows generate heat just by eating (which she does pretty much all day long!)
Pigs can withstand cold very well due to their thick layer of fat. However, they have no fur or fleece so they can be sensitive to wet. They prefer to sit on a bed of dry straw, and watch the snow come down. The sisters also sleep together for extra warmth.
Despite all of the excitement of our winter fun, the whole farm community is looking forward to spring.
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