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Keeping Livestock Safe During Extreme Cold

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Keeping Livestock Safe During Extreme Cold

Subzero temperatures are common across the state and most of the Midwest today. This will require some special precautions for livestock producers.

It has been a long night and will be a long day for livestock producers with cattle or sheep in the field.  Dr. Kyle Shipman, from the Indiana Board of Animal Health, points out the three key things to keep in mind are shelter, water, and food. “It is important to make sure animals have some kind of shelter,” he stated. “If a barn is not possible then a windbreak where they can get some shelter from the wind chill.” He added it is important that these areas be kept clear of snowdrifts so animals do not have to exert too much energy to reach the areas.

Keeping water sources unfrozen will be vital and will be a constant chore the next few days. Shipman said special care also needs to be taken to provide extra food.

“They will need high quality hay or other grain to give them the energy to keep warm.”  He warned producers about giving livestock too much food or introducing new food they may not be used to.

Dr. Shipman reminds non-farmers who see livestock out in this kind of weather that they are especially adapted to handle the cold.

“They have the innate ability to seek out strategies to deal with the cold, like finding the low place in a field or huddling together to stay warm. They also have a very dense winter hair coat that helps keep them well insulated from the cold.”

He urges producers to watch for any sign of injury or other abnormal behavior during this extreme cold. Shipman added that producers need to take precautions for themselves while working in these extreme conditions.