8 Tips To Avoid The Brutal Cold Weather Farm 'Chill-out'

So much for global warming. This week's biggest challenge is protecting your kids, farm livestock and pets from bone-chilling cold weather injury.

Published on: Jan 7, 2014

So much for global warming. Global freezing is "hot news" these days – all the way from Manitoba, Canada to iced-in icebreakers at Antarctica.

If you've never seen a person with a severely frost-bitten face, count it as a blessing. It's not a pretty sight. With sub-zero wind chill temperatures, it happens quickly. So bundle up!

And livestock are just as vulnerable. As one observer pointed out this morning, there's bound to be a lot of dairy calves and beef feeder cattle with short ears come this spring – due to severe frost bite or freezing.

Consider these cold-weathering tips
Here's a quick list of cold-weather to-dos gathered from Clemson University and South Dakota State University Extension:

NOT INVINCI-BULL:  Even bulls are at risk of severe cold weather injury.
NOT INVINCI-BULL: Even bulls are at risk of severe cold weather injury.

* Few animals have an adequate winter coats for protection in extreme bone-chilling cold. Since goose-down pet parkas are in short supply, pets should be brought inside or into protected covered areas, provided with plenty of bedding and food and drinking water.

* Provide livestock with a minimum of wind-break and roof shelter. Monitor them for signs of discomfort (extensive shivering, weakness, lethargy, etc.)

* Calf blankets and deep bedding provide an extra layer for animals not having heavy winter coats.

* Offer enough extra hay/forage/feed to double the calories for normal body heat maintenance during extreme cold.

* Access to drinking water is critical, even though your usual water sources may freeze solid. Many animals, especially the young, may not know how or be unable to break several inches of ice to reach water. 

* Lactating cows that are adequately fed should withstand cold conditions – if kept clean, dry and not exposed directly to winds. Teat skin chapping (frostbite) can become a problem, making more susceptible to bacterial infection – particularly Staphylococcus.

* Bulls, too, need protection from severe winter cold. That frost-bite injury can substantially "chill" herd pregnancies later this year.

* For horses, adding a warm sloppy bran mash, sloppy moistened beet pulp or soaking pelleted feed in warm water is a good way to add water to horses' diet.

For more on cold weather cow and calf care, click on: cold_stress .