Locking the lamas inside the barn at night was not something I had really ever considered doing on a regular basis. The one exception was when we had a baby born...we would routinely shut the new mom and baby in our catch pen/creep feeder (basically just an extra 8'x12' pen in our barn) for a night or two to bond and stay out of the cold.
|May and her cria Camissia, locked in the catch pen for the night.|
And then we moved to NY and had the winter from he**! It dropped below 0 degrees more times this winter than I could count, and we often had wind chills in the double negative digits! My Midwest lamas were definitely not use to this, and they were suffering.
|April laying in one of her favorite spots, out by the hay feeder.|
My preferred first treatment for the cold is insulated coats. The only lamas that I saw shivering this winter were April, Duque, and Ralph. They all wore coats through at least half of the winter; Duque and Ralph wore theirs a bit less than April.
|Duque and Ralph in their coats. Duque has since inherited April's coat, since April got a new thicker one!|
It got so cold at times though that I would see April and Duque shivering, even with their coats on! That's when I knew I had to do more to keep them warm.
Luckily the lamas' pen is on the south side of the barn, so the wind is normally not bad. But in the cold winter, even a heavy breeze can drop the wind chill severely. Since April apparently doesn't like being in the barn, the only way to keep her out of the wind was to lock her (and everyone else) inside the barn.
As I've mentioned before, I put down a lot of waste hay in the barn this winter for added insulation agains the cold. So in addition to being out of the wind, they have the benefit of laying in a nice warm bed and not the cold concrete or frozen ground outside!
|Nice bed of waste hay in the barn.|
My threshold for locking the entire herd inside was whenever the temperatures were below 0 (Fahrenheit), or if the windchill was in the double negative digits. There were a couple exceptions, mostly when it was warm and rainy and then supposed to get really cold quickly. A few times I just locked April inside (in the catch pen) with a friend (usually Kara or Ralph).
|April in the catch pen (eating her dinner).|
Of course April hates being locked in the barn, but it has definitely helped keep her warm this winter.
During one extreme cold spell, the lamas stayed in the barn for 2 days and 3 nights (in a row)!
I even locked them in last night, even though the temperature was just under freezing. They had been standing out in the rain all day, and the temperature was supposed to drop to almost 0 degrees during the night. I went back outside this morning to feed, and found 5 happy, warm, and dry lamas, even though it was still in the single digits outside! I put coats on the 3 regulars, and gave them their freedom. Now that they're dry they'll be fine outside tonight.
|And now for a little cheering up...SPRING!|