The chill of winter is arriving early in Texas
With abnormally cold conditions arriving early this winter it is important that animals are prepared for the cold. While younger, healthy donkeys are able to adapt to the cooler climate, not all of them grow a thicker coat. In fact a lot of donkey breeds show little change in their coats between the summer and winter months. Older donkeys, and those with pre-existing heath conditions can be at high risk once the temperatures drop below 30 degrees.
Recent studies have found that donkeys, and to a lesser extent, mules do not adapt as well to colder temperatures as horses do. They are more susceptible to a variety of conditions including hypothermia, frostbite, laminitis, rain scald, and mud fever once the temperature drops below 30 degrees. This temperature can vary depending on wind chill conditions, in addition to exposure to the rain.
What is rain scald and mud fever?
Rain scald is a bacterial infection of the skin that results in the formation of matted scabs usually affecting the back and rump but occasionally the lower limbs. What causes Rain Scald? The bacteria that causes rain scald is called Dermatophilus congolensis and can occur if the hair on your equine remains wet over long periods
Mud fever, also known as pastern dermatitis or 'cracked heels' is characterized by scabs and sore on a equine's legs. It often affects pink skinned areas and may be noticed as red, sore areas of skin that may be weeping, or lumpy patches often on the lower limbs, although any leg can be affected. the wet conditions cause the skin to soften and mud rubs against this softened skin causing damage to the surface where bacteria can enter.
Care for my animals during winter events
The most important tip is to just keep an eye on your animals. They rarely complain until it is too late, so you need to remain diligent. Ensuring they have a dry location that is protected from the wind and elements. Make sure their water is not frozen, schedule regular farrier visits, blanket them if the temperatures begin to drop below 30, paying special attention to the wind-chill factor. If their blankets get wet, make sure to change them out. Most importantly, if you have a question, reach out to your Veterinarian or local equine rescue facility for more specific advice.