Extreme weather conditions, such as recently seen in Marion County, mean cattle have greater needs.
Nolan Brunner, co-owner of Cow Camp Ranch at Ramona, a feedstock, cow/calf operation and commercial feed yard, said cattlemen need to be especially attentive to their animals’ needs in extreme weather.
“It’s kind of like you expect — it’s kind of tough on the cattle, but if you can keep enough food in them, it keeps their energy up,” he said. “That’s about all you can do when temperatures are extreme is give them energy.”
Energy helps cattle maintain healthy body temperatures.
Keeping the animals warm and dry is important as well, Brunner said. Windbreaks assist with that.
“If you don’t have natural windbreaks, trees or anything like that, we do have portable windbreaks we can take out and set up,” he said.
In its feedlot area, the company uses railroad ties stacked between metal posts as an effective windbreak.
“That helps a lot,” he said.
Brunner said winter calving creates needs of its own. Winter is tougher on newborns and a cattleman needs to be vigilant about taking care of their needs.
“Calves in this severe weather won’t survive long if they’re not protected,” he said. “If they are out in the wind in this weather, they have a slim chance.”
For that reason, Cow Camp has moved to fall calving instead of winter calving.
Cattlemen also need to be attentive to animals’ water needs.
“Even in this extreme cold weather, cattle still drink quite a bit,” he said.
If cattle get their water from a pond, ice on the top might have to be broken so they can drink. Creeks usually have areas that don’t freeze.
Cow Camp uses heated stock tanks fed by wells.
“The lines are sloped so they drain out and back into the well,” he said.
In any event, cattlemen need to be prepared for extreme weather, Brunner said.
“You’ve got to spend a little more time feeding and making sure you’ve got water,” he said.