The driveway under snow.

Alpacas and the never ending winter – how do they cope? Since the two leggers on this farm are struggling with this winter which seems to be endless, you have to wonder what the animals think of it all. How do they survive? Here in Kansas we seemed to jump from summer to winter with very little fall in between. The gradual cooling that normally goes on in the fall did not happen. Temperatures were very variable, freezing one day and warm the next. These conditions are hard on animals.

When the really cold temperatures hit we had to get into winter mode very quickly. We checked out all the heated water buckets and trough heaters,. Then made sure the empty stalls in the horse barn were bedded down and ready for the males. Sometimes they need more protection than their field shelters provide. We made sure we had a stock of alfalfa cubes and beet pulp – great for putting weight on animals who might be on the thin side. A few bales of alfalfa hay were added to the hay store for the same reason.

The winter so far has been round after round of snow, freezing rain, and sleet. Sometimes, all three in one storm. The wind chill has been brutal at times. We had several days of a power outage with one storm which meant no water heaters. Breaking ice and carrying buckets of water is not fun. It is essential that the animals drink enough during winter. The alpacas were in the barns during the storms and out of the wind. They still had plenty of ventilation in the barn while staying dry.

In a winter like this, it is very important to watch the condition of the alpacas. We have two seniors who are 21 years old. They get extra rations as needed and love alfalfa! So far they seem to be holding condition. It is important to get your hands on the animals to get a body score. Fleece at this time of year can easily hide a condition issue.

We are so ready for spring here although after all the snow and rain we are going to have to deal with the dreaded mud!