Cold weather & Your Sheep

Published by Elizabeth Horsfall on June 3, 2019

The impact of cold weather, especially when combined with wet and windy conditions can have a severe impact on your sheep. Lambs, recently shorn sheep & pregnant ewe are most at risk & it is important that they are put into areas or paddocks that contain the best shelter or protection from the elements.

Recently shorn sheep are at greatest risk of cold stress in the first 3 days/night after shearing, and can remain at some risk for 2 weeks. Their fleece growth is minimal over this short period but considerable skin thickening will occur. The stress of the actual shearing process may also be a factor.

Once cold, freshly shorn sheep may become extremely difficult to move so always put your shorn sheep straight into shade protected paddocks, sheltered yards or waterproof structures. Cold weather snaps can occur with little warning so taking preventative action with all your recently shorn sheep can help prevent losses in the case of a sudden weather change. You should provide extra feed to sheep for upto 4 weeks following the shearing process so as to meet their increased energy requirements..

Studies have shown that in winter & cold, wet and windy weather lamb losses can be reduced by around 30% if they are provided with good shelter. Effective shelter will protect your lambs from wind & rain as well as enabling controlled exposure to the sun. Reducing the wind speed with the use of shade sails & shelter structures at lambing sites is another critical factor contributing to the increased survival of your lambs.

Farmers, managers and those in charge of livestock have a responsibility to provide shelter so that the health and welfare of livestock is not compromised. Remember “Provide shelter for all stock, identify areas of shelter on farm which are suitable for use during adverse weather events and give special consideration to shelter for young, sick or pregnant stock.”

Improve your growth rates & reduce your mortality with Retractable Shade Sail Systems & Waterproof Structures from Polytex Tarpaulins. Download our free livestock shade structures guide.

Download our Free Livestock Shelter Guide

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