Now that winter is upon us, the adverse effects of cold temperatures and overnight frosts are not far behind. Winter brings with it higher instances of slips, trips, vehicle collisions and damage to outdoor surfaces. It can also prove more dangerous to animals, especially those that must live outside for at least part of the day, such as grazing horses or cattle. Even smaller animals, for example, those being cared for in veterinary practices over winter, and their owners, are not immune to winter-related risks.

Safe Winter De-Icing Tips

Protecting your farm, stables or veterinary practice by preparing outdoor surfaces for winter is a top priority at this time of year. Melting ice and snow that has settled and frozen can go a long way to preventing people and animals from getting injured. However, it is vitally important that the methods used don’t cause equal or worse damage. For example, using rock salt to get rid of ice can be extremely toxic to animals. The harmful chemicals that rock salt contains can be absorbed through the feet or licked off the skin, allowing it to enter the digestive system and cause harm. They can enter the soil and nearby water systems, leading to further repercussions across surrounding habitats.

Rock salt alternatives - ecogrit handheld shaker

One of the best winter de-icing tips to protect your animal-based business is to opt for a salt-free de-icer, such as EcoGrit. The salt-free de-icer is environmentally friendly, highly efficient – working down to temperatures of minus 20 degrees C – and will not damage animals’ paws, skin or internal systems. If EcoGrit is accidentally ingested, it will not harm the animal’s internal systems but will work itself out harmlessly. EcoGrit can be sprinkled the night before an expected frost and can work for up to seven days. The formula also does not contain any urea, which can also be toxic to animals if ingested.

Other Ways to Winterproof Your Premises Safely

There are many other ways to protect a farm, stables or veterinary practice in winter. Here are some ideas to help safeguard the animals cared for there, as well as those who work at or visit these places over the winter:

  • Ensure that you have a warm water supply. This is vital for providing clean drinking water for the animals, as well as for washing equipment and keeping the area clean. While EcoGrit should not be applied directly to the water, the salt-free de-icer can be sprinkled around any water containers kept outside to help keep the outsides from frosting over. Or wrap some insulating material around it to keep temperatures above zero.
Winter De-Icing Tips for Your Farm, Stables or Veterinary Practice
Young sheep standing together in snow-covered farmland
  • Dry shelter is vital for any animals that have access to the outside during winter. Having a warm, safe place to retreat to is important for ongoing health and wellbeing. Prolonged exposure to wet and damp conditions can lead to a myriad of illnesses and unwanted conditions.
  • Keep paths and walkways clear from obstacles and tripping hazards. Where possible, install hand rails for additional support when it is harder to walk, such as where the ground is frosty. Apply EcoGrit to keep any settled snow and ice to a minimum.
  • Stay alert during the night. Farm animals can be fed at night to help keep them well fueled. The physical activity around eating, ruminating and digesting can also help keep their bodies warmer for longer. Watch out for animals taking ill in the small hours and make sure any caged animals have enough bedding, straw or hay to tuck themselves up in, out of the cold.
Winter De-Icing Tips for Your Farm, Stables or Veterinary Practice
beautiful brown horses walking in snow
  • Ensuring regular exercise is also key to help keep animals warm. If an animal is recovering from an operation, monitor them until they are ready to start moving and then encourage gentle exercise by providing them with a run or taking them outside when the weather is less cold, under supervision.
  • Go for animal-friendly winter care products, including using EcoGrit urea-free and salt-free de-icer when preparing outdoor surfaces for winter where animals are regularly walking or living nearby.
  • Keep outdoor areas well-lit to avoid people falling or slipping on unseen ice. The frequency of slips and trips rises dramatically in winter months, as people attempt to navigate slippery areas without additional support.