The blast of arctic air coming across the nation should have beef cattle producers on edge. University of Illinois Extension Beef Cattle Educator Teresa Steckler says there are a few thing that should be done to protect animals from the cold.
“There are a couple of different things going on here. One is that we have had a lot of rain. Hair-coats may be wet which has also led to wet ground. With these frigid temperatures that are coming we really need to get some corn stover or straw down on the ground. If you do not have a windbreak, try to figure out how to make a windbreak. That could really help these animals out in these trying times when the wind chill drops below 20 degrees. As the wind picks up and they have a wet hair-coat grub, more resources, more nutrition, to get them through these trying times.”
Steckler says upping the feed intake is really important. If the cattle are shivering they’re not getting enough food to keep warm.
“They need to have good high quality feedstuffs during this time to keep the microbial action going and producing the heat. If they have a wet hair-coat and you are not feeding them enough, they’ll probably shiver and quit eating and drinking water. So, keep an eye on the cattle. The other thing is because we have spring breeding coming up, you need to provide areas for bulls to be able to rest. When they lay down you want to insure the scrotums do not get frost bitten or any other areas vital to reproduction. So, that could really impact bulls ability to get your cows pregnant.”
Steckler says the primary needs for beef cattle as the temperatures drop are to give them a place to shelter from the wind and to increase their feed rations.