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Livestock owners, zoo prepare animals for winter storm

By KBell
Feb. 2, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 1, 2011 at 8:02 p.m.

Chiiselda Garcia, 17, shivers as one of her family's pigs, named Bam Bam, drinks from a water spout which is attached to a hose Wednesday at the family's home in Placedo. Keeping the lines from freezing so the pigs have constant access to water is one of the most important things to do to protect the animals from the cold weather.

FOCUS ON WATERWoble and Blomberg both mentioned a sufficient, unfrozen water supply is one of the most important measures animal owners can take to ease an animal's winter experience. "They need just as much water in cold temperatures as they do in heat," Blomberg said.

Betty the pig darted across the Garcia family's yard in Placedo Wednesday night while the family, clad in gloves and winter coats, struggled to contain her.

"They get really frisky when it gets cold," father Charles Garcia said.

Meanwhile, pigs Bam Bam and Wilma enjoyed fresh water and hay, heat lamps, even some radio music in their winterized pens.

Charles Jr., 16, and Chiiselda, 17, had prepared their pigs' tin pens with the basics - food and shelter - in anticipation of the freezing temperatures.

County Extension Agent Sam Womble encouraged others to do the same.

"Some kind of a barn or shelter, a wind break, or thicket or brush," provide the best shelter, he said. "Break ice over some troughs to make sure cattle have access to water," he added.

Womble also said to consider higher-protein foods during winter months and providing blankets for animals.

"The reality is that cold stress is a real problem for livestock," Womble said. "It can be pretty tough on pets or livestock in general."

Andrea Blomberg, executive director at the Texas Zoo, said by Wednesday afternoon, the zoo had already taken pro-active measures to protect its animals.

"We've got animals in just about every building that can house animals now, safely."

Blomberg said the power outages have been a concern for the zoo, especially its exotic animals, and that the staff has measured temperatures when the heat goes off to make sure animals can sustain any possible outage.

"We're going to keep our waterlines trickling too," she said. "We're taking this very seriously. I was on the phone with emergency management earlier, and we may bring generators as backup energy sources."

The zoo was closed Wednesday and will be closed Thursday, she said.

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