Beef Buzz News
When Brutal Cold Hits, Cows Need Extra Energy And Attention, Says KSU Extension Beef Cow Specialist Justin Waggoner
Fri, 12 Feb 2021 08:18:51 CST
Cattle in good condition with good, dry haircoats can handle temperatures in the teens but when it gets in the single digits or below, stress becomes a major factor requiring producers to add extra care, said Justin Waggoner, Kansas State University Research and Extension beef cattle systems specialist.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes With KSU's Justin Waggoner
With brutal cold bearing down on the High Plains, some producers may be forced to deal with conditions they are not familiar with, especially in the southern Plains. The K-State cattle scientist offers several ideas to keep those cattle alive.
We typically consider for every degree we go below the lowest critical temperature, that's going to be about a one percent increase in that animal's energy requirement, he said.
For example, if the critical temperature is 18 degrees and the temperature drop to 8 or 10 degrees, that's about a 10 percent increase in energy required, Waggoner said.
The animal does not need extra protein, just more energy, he noted.
The KSU scientist said the animal's grazing behavior will also change during extreme weather events.
When a blizzard blows in, cattle don't go out and graze, he said.
This will require supplemental forage and Waggoner suggests using hay that is slightly better quality than the forage the cattle are used to grazing.
Cattle grazing on milo or corn stalks should be fed a moderate quality grass hay, he said.
The other thing producers can do is increase the feeding rate of byproducts such as distillers' grain that bring more energy to the table.
The end goal is to get more energy into those cows during this cold weather event.
Waggoner said these steps should be taken anytime the extreme weather event lasts more than a couple of days.
What begins to happen is when cows begin to calve, they may be behind in conditioning due to the stress caused by the winter storm.
When cows are stressed by the cold and need extra energy, they are going to tap into their reserve body conditioning.
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