Basics of Caring for Livestock – Different Animals Certain Requirements

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Caring for livestock can be difficult if you don’t know the basics. While different animals may have certain different requirements, there are some basic needs that are common for all livestock. You need to take some necessary steps to ensure your livestock gets through the toughest seasons.

Basics of Caring for Livestock

Provide Shelter

Shelter is the most basic part of caring for livestock. You can’t leave your livestock outside all the time; they will need a shelter to get inside for the night. A good shelter will protect animals from the elements as well as predators. It should also prevent the animals from escaping.

Milk producing livestock like pygmy goats, cattle, pigs or cows can be vulnerable at cold nights and can get frozen teats. This can result in lower milk production.

Providing protection for your animals will keep them happier, more productive and relaxed. It also depends on your climate.

Shelters come in a variety of forms and types such as barns and pole sheds, solid or semi solid fences, tree belts and thickets. For cows, a cattle shed has many advantages. Learn about erecting a cattle shed

Make sure that the shelter is dry and clean and has proper drainage. Build a shelter according to the size of your livestock, giving proper ventilation but not making it too drafty.

Having many animals means you should build a larger shelter with adequate space and proper bedding. The bedding will require regular cleaning as soiled bedding leads to pneumonia.

Learn about the best miniature cattle breeds for your small farm for a great supply of milk.


Providing your livestock with adequate amounts of water is essential. This is especially important for those animals that are being milked. Water fills them up, which in turn requires less feeding. Water helps regulate body temperature so make sure to provide water that is not cold.

In winter it is better to heat the water up a little. Giving cold water will lower the body temperature, which means the livestock will need to burn more calories to increase their body temperature.

This will require you to feed them more. The right amount of clean water is crucial for your animals’ health. It helps to prevent risks of dehydration, impaction or colic.

Nutritious Feed

Livestock need nutrients to maintain their health. This is an important aspect of caring for livestock. You need to provide them with food, a proper supplement formulated balanced nutrition. Having a nice percentage of minerals, vitamins and protein, these provide more energy than forages.

For winter the feed needs to be increased. The lower the temperature, the more the livestock will need to consume in order to maintain body heat.

You’ll also have to consider if the animals will be foraging. For instance, when you consider what do pigs eat, pigs who forage will need less grain-based feed. Supplementing with alfalfa is ideal for heavy milk producers as well as beef animals, such as Limousin cattle.

It is important to monitor the intake of your individual animals.

Feeding small amounts after every few hours will help reduce waste, if you have a small number of livestock.

Manure and Mud

Having large quantities of mud and manure accumulate in your livestock’s shelter can make your animals uncomfortable. Rain and night chills don’t help the situation. This is a prerequisite to getting sick.

Reduce the buildup of manure and mud mixture. Use fresh sand, wood chip, gravel and tile across the shelter floor as and when necessary.

Caring for livestock can be a rewarding venture. Whether you are looking to run a livestock farm as a major source of income or just for the sake of having a farm that you always wanted, these basic guidelines will help you care better for your livestock.

Herding the Animals

Consider ways in which you will move and contain your herds. For instance, before raising sheep or cattle, you need a way to herd the animals when rotating pasture or when leading them from pasture at the end of the day toward their shelter. Herding cattle can be accomplished with cattle dogs and livestock guardian animals. Shepherd dogs can herd sheep and help keep them safe.

Health Care

It is important to stay on top of your livestock’s health. There are many things you can do to care for your animals that will go a long way toward keeping them healthy. First, animals need nutritious food and fresh water daily. In addition, they need a well-ventilated, draft-free shelter which will protect them from cold weather, snow and storms. They need to be able to stay dry in the colder months. A good shelter will also help protect them from predators. 

It’s important for animals to have access to fresh air and be able to free-range whenever possible. Their food and water sources need to be cleaned regularly. Their barn, coop or cages need to be cleaned as well.

Minimize stress for your animals as best you can by ensuring you have the proper number of animals for your space. Before adding animals to your farm, consider how many sheep per acre and how many goats per acre is recommended to be sure animals remain healthy with enough to eat and safe. Also, use best practices for fly control for cattle and keep other pests away from your livestock.

It is important to be aware of ailments for the animals you raise. Be prepared to call a veterinarian when something seems off with your livestock.

How to Care for Animals in a Natural Disaster

When a natural disaster hits, some animals know what to do.

  • Raccoons know how to search for food amid the upheaval.
  • Black bears and ground-dwelling birds seek shelter under the tree limbs and trunks suddenly uprooted.

Yet, typically, these animals, especially domesticated house pets, are just as shaken by the conditions as we are.

We recommend that you have a Pet evacuation kit, Cat evacuation kit and a NOAA weather radio.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria, many are wondering how to care for cats, dogs, rabbits and more as thousands of pets have become displaced.

There are a few key ways you can make sure to protect your furry loved ones when nature strikes. It just takes some preparation. Depending on your location, you may decide to either evacuate the storm or stay put.

There are ways to care for animals in both scenarios. Having emergency lighting is the first thing. Just like their owners, when they can see, they will feel more in control of their situation.

Care for animals while you wait out the storm

It’s important to know how to care for animals during a natural disaster. If you opt to seek shelter inside your home, bring your animals in with you. Don’t wait until it’s beginning to storm outside, but rather take caution plenty ahead of time.

If you typically allow your pets to roam freely in your home, consider their usual favorite hiding spots. This might be under a bed or in the corner of a room.

Consider if these areas might prove hazardous during a natural disaster.

care for animals
Your pets will need you to survive. Be prepared with the basics.

In this case, it’s best to keep your animals in a carrier if possible. Doing so provides an added sense of security and protection.

Find a spot in your home that’s safe to wait out the storm and bring the carrier in there with you.

Owning a pet carrier is also a good idea should disaster strike, and you do need to pack up and leave.

When you plan for emergencies, you must factor in your pets as well.

Just as you are purchasing extra water and nonperishable food, you should have an extra supply of the basics for your pets.

Caring for animals when you evacuate

If a natural disaster is heading directly your way, you may choose to evacuate. If this is the case, there are other preventative measures to take as you care for animals.

As soon as you decide to head out of town, check and see if there are any pet-friendly evacuation centers in the city where you’re headed.

For the most part, general population shelters have a no-pet policy, so doing a little research beforehand is a great way to keep your pets with you if possible.

In the same vein, if you’re looking to board a horse, look to see if emergency stabling is available.

If you locate a shelter that accepts pets, be sure to have the following on hand as you evacuate:

  1. A copy of their medical records and vaccinations
  2. Proof of your residency in a disaster zone
  3. Pet food and supplies (enough to last for two weeks)

You can also check to see if local hotels or motels allow pets.

Though most have a no-pet policy, some will defer that rule in the event of an emergency situation.

During the disaster: Easing the impact

When you’re in the thick of a natural disaster, you don’t want to have to scramble around trying to find your pet’s medicines or litter scooper.

Create a survival kit full of things you and your pet will need to ride out the storm.

You’ll have everything you need, even if you lose power. Here are a few essentials to remember:

  • Water
  • Collapsible feeding bowls
  • Cat litter box and accessories
  • Pet medications
  • Animal first-aid items
  • While typically for dogs and cats, a pet evacuation kit is handy.

An added benefit is everything is already in a bag, ready to grab and go.

In general, it’s also smart to have a hand crank or solar radio to keep up with important news.

Prepare in advance for a power outage. You will be that much calmer for your animals if you do lose power.

Updating Identification Tags

At the same time, it’s also a good idea to go ahead and update your pet’s identification tags.

In the event that your furry friend gets separated from the rest of your family, these can prove invaluable in helping facilitate a reunion.

This step is especially important for large-breed animals such as cows and horses.

As necessary, make sure your animals are identifiable.

Mini Milking Cows: What Are Small Breed Milk Cows?

Best Farm Animals: How to Populate a Healthy Farm

Identification Tags

  • Microchipping
  • Taking a picture of your pet
  • Tattooing
  • Branding

Aiding in recovery efforts

There are steps you can take now to make the post-storm recovery effort go as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Especially if you’re riding out the storm from home, it’s wise to invest in a few “Pet Inside” stickers, available online.

Place these waterproof stickers on the outside of your home’s exterior doors and windows.

That way, rescue workers can easily identify that you have an animal inside and take proper precautions to ensure the safety of your entire family, Fido included.

Updating your buddy system

One of the best ways you can care for animals during a natural disaster is to establish a buddy system.

Do you have a family member who’s great with animals? What about a few friends, co-workers, or neighbors?

Bring them into your circle so there’s always someone around to give your pet care, even when you’re not available.

Even if you don’t expect a natural disaster to occur, it’s important to set this system up now.

That way, if something out of the ordinary happens while you’re away, your trusted buddies will make sure your pets are taken care of.

To help in recovery efforts, add the name of one or two buddies to your veterinary’s approved emergency contact list.

Then, if your pet is found without you and requires medical treatment, those confidants can speak on your behalf to him the care he needs.

Caring for Livestock Stick to the plan

Nothing upsets an already-anxious animal quite like switching up a routine last-minute.

Though it’s understandable that plans change, especially in the wake of a storm, it’s important to create a route ahead of time and adhere to it as closely as possible.

Why? Doing so will make you calmer, which in turn will make your dog or cat more relaxed.

If you’re scurrying to find your keys or rushing or locate your dog’s water bowl as a natural disaster is impending, you’ll undoubtedly feel stressed and anxious yourself.

These are emotions that your pet can easily sense.

Being prepared is essential to your well being and your pet’s safety.

To prevent delays and secure your well-being, lay out your plans as soon as possible, and practice any escape routes well in advance.

That way, when the time comes to Caring for Livestock, you’ll know just what to do, and how to help your pet navigate as well.

Rural living involves caring for your animals and learning homesteading best practices to embrace nature and be more self-sufficient.

We have resources for emergency preparedness, including the importance of getting a generator, and more.

Related Articles:

The Path to Sustainability: Gardens and Orchards
The Path to Sustainability: Preparing and Preserving Fresh Foods
Everything you need to Know about Pygmy Goats Raising Livestock is the Path to Sustainability
Horse Grooming and DIY Farrier
Guide To Raising Rabbits for Meat

3 thoughts on “Basics of Caring for Livestock – Different Animals Certain Requirements”

  1. I didn’t realize that cold weather can decrease milk production. My husband and I bought a relatively large plot of land earlier this fall, and we are talking about getting a couple of cows. I will be sure to have a clean, dry, and heated shelter available for the animals before we get them.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned that the amount of feed we give to the livestock needs to be increased during the winter. My brother and his wife are looking into buying large animals for their ranch, hopefully within the next couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to pass along your advice so they can make sure they find a feed dealer that’ll be able to meet their needs year-round!

  3. I liked that you mentioned that a shelter should be ventilated by not too drafty. My uncle just bought a plot of land and he is looking to get some goats and cows. He is hoping to find a company that will help build reliable shelters for his animals so they can be safe and happy.

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