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Keeping Livestock Warm When Temperatures Drop

Livestock animals are hearty and are well able to handle cold weather. However, keeping livestock outside for any reason, including to extend grazing periods, means some special steps must be taken to make sure that these animals are protected and remain healthy.

Cows compensate for cold temperatures with a heavier coat and they also look for ways to generate heat. They also will flock together in circles to exchange heat. Animals in the outer circle will find a warm spot and move themselves to the center, pushing the ones at the center of the circle out.

In general, if extremely cold temperatures are not present, livestock like cattle can handle the elements as long as they are healthy and not exposed to wet, windy weather or wind chills that dip below freezing. If temperatures are above freezing, cattle can stay comfortable as long as they have enough hay, food and water. Problems begin when extreme cold, wet weather comes into play, or when an animal has a history of health problems or they are without food and shelter.

If you are unsure whether it is best to keep your cattle indoors in cold conditions, it is best to err on the side of caution. However, if this is not an option, you should build cover with a tarp, creating a makeshift, or rustic, barn. You also should keep ample bedding outside or in the barn so that cattle have a relatively warm place to recline. If cattle are outside, move these areas around to avoid erosion.

During cold weather, cows also will need to increase their hay intake. High-quality hay is a must in such conditions. Livestock feed with an additional energy source also is recommended. This includes things like grain, oilseeds and commercially produced feed supplements.

What follows are some of the most important things to keep in mind if your livestock are outside during cold weather:

  • Animals in poor health need extra attention in order to survive and remain productive in cold weather.
  • Even if you can’t provide constant shelter to livestock in cold conditions, try to provide it at least periodically. They also need enough food and water.
  • When temperatures fall extremely low, provide refuge in a barn or in a rustic barn.
  • Cold air is heavier and comes from above so providing a cover over animals is important.

 

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 12/10/2017
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