Weather Alert

Cattle can suffer in the cold weather

AMES — An Iowa State University Extension Beef Specialist says these sub-zero temperatures we’re experiencing can be especially difficult for animals.

Beth Doran says one simple step you can take is to be sure there’s a windbreak of some sort. ┬áDoran says cattle have a normal comfort zone of 32 to 75 degrees — but can take colder temperatures as long as their hair is dry and fluffy.

Doran says you should provide adequate bedding so they are not on the bare ground. She says they also need a water source that is not frozen. ┬áDoran says the cold temperatures really test the ability to keep water available — but it is important as it drives how much the cattle will eat.

The ISU beef specialist suggests producers increase the amount of feed given to their cattle herds, during these extremely cold days, as they will use more feed to generate energy to stay warm. “We know for every degree below 32 degrees that that energy need increases one percent. So the way to do that is to provide more feed. It would be kind of like if you and I were eating candy bars. We might get by with one candy bar — if it is really cold — maybe we’ll eat two candy bars,” Doran says.

Doran says for cow-calf producers, they need to make certain those new-born calves are protected since calves are extremely susceptible to the cold temperatures since they are wet. She says the tails, ears, and legs of small calves are vulnerable to frostbite.

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