What is under that blanket or wool coat?

This is the time of year I find myself wanting to hide indoors more than the rest of the year.  That means keeping my chore time as brief as possible some days.  That makes it an easy time of year to overlook how are animals are fairing in their body weight especially if most of their body is hidden under a horse blanket, a luxurious wool fleece, or thick winter coat. I will see more dangerously skinny animals in March than during the worst of the cold that usually comes in January. Unless we remember to check under the blanket  or get our hands physically through the wool we can miss the dramatic weight loss that can happen. This could be from burning more calories to stay warm than the animal is consuming, lowered intake due to poor dentition, less food available because of being low on the proverbial pecking order within a group, decreased immune function making an individual more susceptible to parasites, etc.  Weight loss can be cumulative through the winter so even though environmental temperatures begin to moderate, the animal shows up with marked weight loss or worse yet, "goes down" because of muscle loss even as spring arrives. 

    This is a good time to take a peak under the blanket or physically touch each and every animal, so any necessary adjustments can be made before there is a surprise at spring blanket removal,  lambing time or when body condition loss simply becomes too severe.