Last week, Stella hit our farm with force. Weather maps had been mapping her path as she geared up to be our “biggest snow storm of the season”. Reports for 40 mph winds and frigid subzero degree temperatures put us on high alert. We expected lambs to begin arriving on the cusp of the storm. We had to figure out how to make an old drafty barn weather tight, and we had just a few days to do it in.
The sheep had been shorn just one week prior, so they were already beginning to shiver as the temperatures began to drop. Our first priority was to get them comfortable. There are several things you can do to help the sheep stay warm, despite how drafty your barn is:
- move all sheep into a stall that is in the center part of the barn rather than against an outer wall
- use Prima heat lamps by Premier (These heat lamps are in a protective cage and have a protective hanging system to prevent accidents.)
- offer warm molasses water for added energy
- offer free choice high quality hay at all times
It did not take long before the sheep learned to huddle under the heat lamps where not only the lamp, but their body heat would warm them.
We then looked at other areas in the barn where the wind and snow could sneak in. We were able to tighten up most areas by:
- covering drafty walls with old grain bags
- stacking hay against the outer wall that took the brunt of the wind.
- closing off our run in with a tarp at one end and a door at the other.
Tuesday morning, light snow began to fall but the temperatures were mild. Snow feel steadily throughout the day. I let the sheep spend the day in back of the barn in a three sided shelter. I knew they would have to be shut in the barn for the duration of the storm and wanted to give them as much outside time as possible. They bedded down in the hay and all that was heard was much snoring throughout the afternoon. No one went into labor that day. By early evening, the sheep were all moved inside the barn to their cozy stall and heat lamps.