Make sure your livestock is taken care of in cold weather

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2017

Most of us know that when it becomes cold, we use more energy. Not only can this be said for us and our home energy bill, but for our livestock, too, which in return causes more labor and an increase in forage quality.

This can be a challenge due to the fact that we have lost hours of daylight. By the time I get off work, it is almost dark which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to get home and get the livestock taken care of.

Here are some tips for dealing with livestock in cold weather:

  • Make sure they have access to clean, fresh water. It can be a hassle and time-consuming to break water, but it is important that it gets done. Cattleā€™s water intake does decrease during the cold, but they still need adequate water consumption. Make sure the tanks aren’t frozen and if you are using automatic water, check it daily to make sure it is still performing like it should.
  • Providing shelter is not usually an easy or practical option for a beef herd but it is important to offer some sort of wind break, whether that be solid or semi-solid fences, trees or brush areas.
  • Make sure you are supplying plenty of nutrients so that your cattle can reach their energy requirements. Cows in good body condition with good winter coats have a critical temperature level of 20 degrees. When the temperature drops below this, you need to provide 1 percent more energy for every degree it drops. If you have cattle that are thinner or short-haired, their critical temperature is 30 degrees. You would need to feed 2 percent more for every degree it drops below that.

If you have any questions about livestock in the cold or the events listed below, please call Morgan Watts at the Rowan County Extension Office (704-216-8970). Also, please let us know if you have an e-mail address that you would like to receive newsletters at.

Some dates to keep in mind and put on your calendar:

  • Jan. 4: Area Beef Conference held at the Iredell Extension Ag Center, 3-7 p.m. Please call the Rowan County Extension Office to RSVP by Dec. 29. A meal will be provided.
  • Jan. 18: Piedmont Small Ruminant Association Meeting held at the Piedmont Research Station, 6:30 p.m. Please call the Rowan County Extension Office by Jan. 15, 2018, to RSVP; cost is $5 per person for the meal. Topic will be lambing and kidding issues and preventatives.
  • Jan. 20: Regional Sheep and Goat Producer Training held at the Guilford County Extension Office, 3309 Burlington Road, Greensboro, NC 27405 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre- registration is $15 per person or $20 at the door. Please register by Jan. 8 at Questions? Please call: 336-318-6000.

Jan. 24: North Carolina Forage and Grasslands Council Winter Conference Series at the Rowan County Extension Office. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. with program from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Cost is $25. To register, call 919-552-9111 or complete online at