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Managing Cold Stress in Cattle

December 18, 2013

Weekly ag column by Mike Boersma County Extension Educator with the U of M Extension Service in Murray and Pipestone Counties
The recent snow and cold temperatures bring with them a host of challenges and special considerations for those with livestock. For cattle producers whose livestock are predominantly outdoors, one of those extra considerations is that animals' energy needs will increase as the temperature decreases. Wind, snow, and cold temperatures have additive effects on the increase in energy requirements for the animals to simply maintain their normal body functions.

As a general guideline, cattle will experience a 1% increase in their energy requirement for every one degree of wind chill below 32 degrees F. In other words, if the wind chill is 10 degrees, a cow's energy requirement would increase by 22 percent (32 minus 10). This increase nearly doubles if the animal is wet.

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