First and foremost, it’s important to remember that your personal safety and the safety of your family and employees is the most important thing. Don’t lose sight of that as you attempt to brave extreme winter weather conditions to take care of your cattle.
Cattle can deal with harsh winter temperatures much easier if they remain dry and are sheltered from the wind. Anything you can do to minimize exposure to freezing rain and wet snow will definitely help your cattle come through these storms in better condition. In addition, providing a windbreak will help cattle conserve energy. Cattle bedding in the form of straw or crop residues will also help cattle better deal with cold conditions.
In feedlot and drylot feeding operations, removing snow from pens before it melts and causes muddy conditions will also pay dividends. Muddy conditions will result in poor cattle performance, increased feed intakes, and increased disease incidence, especially in young calves.
Cold conditions cause in an increase in maintenance energy requirements and as a result, you should focus your attention on providing more energy in the diet during periods of extremely cold weather. This can be in the form of higher quality roughage, supplemental byproducts, or cereal grains.
Finally, be on the lookout for frostbite. Especially sensitive areas include the teats of lactating cows and the scrotum and testicles of bulls. In cows, you may not notice the frostbite until calf growth is reduced because the cow refuses to let the calf nurse affected teats. For bulls, frostbite damage of the testicles will result in problems with sperm production 45 to 60 days following the frostbite injury. Be sure to have a breeding soundness exam prior to the breeding season to ensure a successful breeding season.
I hope these tips will help you cope with the challenges of winter weather. For more detailed information regarding these topics please see this web site: http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/coping/cattcope.htm