Helping Cold Stressed Livestock

Wet, cold weather is tough on livestock as well as producers who have to take special care of those animals.

Published on: Jan 18, 2008

Much of the United States has seen major ice and snow storms this winter and more cold and nasty conditions can be expected. This places an extra burden on livestock producers to keep livestock fed. According to Kansas State University veterinarian Larry Hollis, even though there may be plenty of grass out there, if it's coated with ice, cattle won't be eating much of it. That means feeding cattle, and the cold means higher feed rates than usual.

"One old rule of thumb that we use to compensate for cold is to increase feed energy 1% for every for each 2 degrees Fahrenheit of cold stress," Hollis says. "If you drop the temperature 20 degrees, then she's going to need 10% more feed."

If cattle are in poor condition, they may need even more feed than that. But another crucial part of taking care of cattle in cold weather is water availability.

"If we don't have water out there then that shuts off all intake," Hollis says. "They'll nibble around but they won't eat if they're not getting water."