In many parts of the country, severe weather is not a matter of “what if” but “when.” If you are a farmer or rancher, you know that extreme weather can be especially dangerous to your livestock. Minimize your risk and protect your herd with these severe weather strategies.
Tips for Protecting Livestock During Extreme Weather
Shelter Animals if Possible — Your livestock will weather the storm much better indoors, so if possible, move them to a barn or shelter that will provide warmth and protection from the wind. No buildings large enough? Consider rotating animals in and out so that no single animal is out during the worst of the conditions. For animals outside during severe weather, provide wind blocks to shield them from the biting wind or harsh rain.
Feed the Need — Your livestock will need increased food and water to help them maintain body temperature during extremely cold weather. Depending on the temperature forecast consider increasing feed — some larger livestock (cattle, horses and hogs) will consume twice their normal amount to maintain adequate body temperatures during winter cold snaps.
Limit Time in Concrete Pens — Cattle and hogs tend to develop foot problems from walking on slippery concrete after rain or snow. If livestock needs to stay outdoors, consider pens with gravel floors, or line pens with woodchips or even sand. Not only is this easier to navigate, softer surfaces are easier on joints and foot/hoof health.
Be Conscious of Noses and Ears — Noses and ears, and other parts of the body that can become wet or damp are at increased risk of frostbite. Livestock is at a danger of losing ears or tails during the coldest temps. Shelter animals that are having a difficult time with cold temperatures.
Pay Special Attention to Babies — The youngest members of your herd will have the most difficult time with extreme temperatures. Shelter the youngest livestock first and ensure their comfort.
As a farmer or rancher, your livestock is your livelihood, and you do all you can to protect animals during extreme temperatures. Your Farm Bureau agent can help you protect your livestock. Before snow flies this season, consider talking to your agent about freezing or smothering coverage in your livestock insurance, and protect yourself from herd loss if the worst happens. Prepare early and have a safe winter season.