Heartland Farms Sanctuary: “We’re in survival mode,” as temps plummet

MADISON (WKOW) — As hard as these historic temperatures will be on your home, they’ll be more dangerous for people and animals. It’s why volunteers are rushing to protect livestock from the weather and their tactics include cute “goat-coats.”

“Hi sweet Lizzie girl,” said Jen Korz as she looked over a stall door at a white goat inside.

Korz is the executive director of Heartland Farms Sanctuary in Verona, Wisconsin’s largest sanctuary that provides care and a home to farm animals in need.

Quacks, oinks, and baas can be heard as you walk through the barn. The animals at the sanctuary are friendly and approachable as they greet people with sniffs, checking to see if you have food in your hands.

“He’s so lovable,” said Korz as she pet a goat named Hugs.

More than 100 animals are getting a lot of love inside the sanctuary’s barn. Their time outside in the pastures is frozen for now until temperatures rise a bit.

“We are planning for the worst,” said Korz. “This is more than Wisconsin cold.”

With temperatures getting as low as 35 below zero on Thursday, it means wind chills could reach 50 below zero. On Wednesday, the wind chill could make it feel like nearly 60 below zero.

“I would say we’re in survival mode right now and our basic necessity is keeping everybody safe, warm and fed,” said Korz.

The barn isn’t heated and on Monday night, the mercury was reading around 20 degrees. It means the goats are outfitted in “goat coats.”

“Some are double-layered,” explained Korz. “The senior goats need extra. They lose their body heat a little bit faster.”

Volunteers are working around the clock to make sure the animals are being fed, staying warm and have clean stalls to live in. Some volunteers are even hosting chickens and ducks in their own basements so there’s more room to bring other animals inside the barn.

“We have four heated sheds that are all empty on the off-chance that an animal starts to really struggle,” said Korz.

The staff knows what signs to look for and management has asked that they be extra observant during the cold stretch.

“If they’re shivering and not warming up, that’s a sign that they’re struggling,” Korz said. “If they aren’t eating, that could be another sign.”

It’s hard and brutal work, but it’s work that’s worth it to keep the furry friends warm.

If you would like to donate new or used blankets or supplies, visit the organization’s Facebook page to contact them.

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