Most farm animals are naturally equipped to deal with the elements but when temperatures hit -40 degrees C such as last week, they need a little help.
Cpl. Dave Heaslip, RCMP livestock investigator, has received calls every day for the last three weeks with people concerned for the health of livestock, especially horses.
There are three things these animals need to cope with such cold temperatures: proper bedding, access to water and lots of feed. Depending on its weight, a horse needs 25 to 35 pounds of hay per day and 10 gallons of water to be healthy, explained Heaslip, and that’s in temperatures above zero degrees C.
“For every five degrees that the temperature drops you can add another five pounds (of hay) a day,” he said.
Keeping animals alive and healthy is a responsibility for owners and is governed under the Animal Protection Act, Heaslip added.
The act states when it comes to animal care, owners must:
• Ensure the animal has adequate food and water
• Provide the animal with adequate care when wounded or ill
• Provide the animal with reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold
• Provide the animal with adequate shelter, ventilation and space
Heaslip’s job is to ensure these measures are taken so animals are not in state of distress. His main goal is to teach owners proper care. There are extreme cases but mostly it’s a question of knowing how to care for animals. “We educate, we warn and we leave prosecution and charging as a last resort.”
“There’s no excuse for neglect,” Heaslip stated.
The more a horse eats the more heat is generated from its intestinal tract and with temperatures at -40 degrees C, some horses could eat up to 60 pounds of feed a day, he explained.
He suggests those who need help or see animals that need help call the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 1-800-455-9003 or call the confidential Alberta Alert Line at 1-800-506-2273. People can also call their local RCMP detachments for assistance.
Heaslip said there are agencies whose mandate is to help people and their animals. “With this snow and extreme temperatures, boy, they (animals) need a lot of food to survive.”