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Farmers Take Extra Measures To Protect Livestock In Frigid Wind Chills

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UPDATED: Monday January 27, 2014 6:15 PM

These are temperatures not fit for man or beast.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to take measures to protect their livestock from the extreme cold.
            
At the Stir Family Farm in Ashville, the cold has already taken casualties.

A few ducklings and a litter of rabbits succumbed to the frigid temperatures.

The Department of Agriculture says hypothermia, frostbite, and illness are real threats over the next two days.

Dennis Stir has been farming since his teens.

The primary product on his 58 acre farm is fruits and berries, but he also raises livestock.

"We have primarily just the hogs and the turkeys and chickens, and a few goats," said Stir.

And the population on his farm is growing.

"I've got two layers, like a canvas on here with plastic over it," he said, pulling back the layers to reveal a litter of twelve piglets born on December 24.

While Stir says the older, larger hogs can tolerate quite a bit, the younger ones are much more vulnerable.

"If they get too chilled or stressed out trying to stay warm, they'll get sick and get pneumonia. And 90 percent of the time, they'd probably die."

He also has a sow ready to give birth at any moment.

"She'll have pigs probably tonight,” he said. “I've got the two heat bulbs in here and a heater on the other side."

The heat of her pen even drew in a pair of cats seeking refuge from the cold.

Stir says he is watching her especially close for signs of labor.

"I'll sit with them and when they pop out I'll wipe their noses off, get them breathing," he said. "If they don't get up and going right away, they'll never make it. I'm real concerned…how many of them will survive."

He's taken every precaution he can, from the heater in the horse stables to the heat lamp for his ducklings

He hopes it will be enough to see his animals through the extreme weather to come.

"Keeping them dry, plenty of bedding and food and water, and they'll adapt pretty well."

Illness and safety concerns aren't the only impact concerning Stir.

This weather is also hitting him hard financially as well.

He says with all the extra heating sources, his utility bill this month jumped hundreds of dollars.

WEB EXTRA:
Advice for farmers/animal owners from the Ohio Department of Agriculture
            
•         Make sure animals have a place to get out of the wind, even if it is just a windbreak or a three-sided shelter.
•         Be sure to provide clean, dry bedding to insulate them from the cold ground and protect them from frostbite.
•         Livestock also need plenty of food because animals burn extra calories to keep warm in severe cold.
•         Animals need access to fresh water, not just frozen streams or snow. Stock tank heaters and frost-proof watering devices will ensure that livestock get enough to drink.
•         It’s also important to remember pets as well during these cold spells; pet owners should send their animals indoors.

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