We have been struggling with near zero temperatures the past few days. High winds and lake effect snow have added to the misery, making it feel much colder than zero. It's natural to be concerned about the animals at this time. After all, that is our job. In the winter, they are especially dependent on us for regular feedings, fresh water, and shelter.
This picture was not actually taken during this particular weather event. For much of the past couple of days, the horses stayed in the barn. But this photo from a couple of weeks ago shows something interesting. The snow on Duke's back indicates to me that he is well-insulated. It LOOKS bad to have an animal with snow on its back. But it's like a house--a bare roof in the winter means the house is losing heat. A snow-covered roof means the insulation is working, and the heat is staying inside.
But these cattle have amazing coats. From a Belted Galloway breed website: "The Belted Galloway has a magnificent winter coat, which comprises a double layer of hair to give excellent insulation from the cold. There is a long "overcoat" which readily sheds the rain and snow and helps keep the animal dry and a very soft, mossy "undercoat" which traps the warmth and gives the Beltie the ability to maintain its body weight with 20-25% less food intake in cold weather."
And they know where to shelter, paying close attention to the wind. Still, we take extra precautions. They are fed twice a day and fed more than usual. It hardly matters if they waste some. The extra hay will keep their stomachs working, generating extra heat.
Soon the brutal cold will be past, and we'll settle into more normal winter weather. But for now, we spend the extra time it takes to care for the animals and get all the chores done.