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Keeping Cattle Healthy in Cold Weather

by Randy Shannon

Though some relief may finally be in sight after nearly three months of solid frigid temps, here are some tips from the folks at PDPW to keep your cattle in good condition this winter.

Feed and water are the fuel that will help keep dairy cattle healthy and productive through cold weather. Dr. Kimberley Morrill, Cornell Cooperative Extension, reminds producers to check water sources throughout the winter months every day to make sure they are free of ice and properly functioning. After all, decreased water consumption can lead to decreased feed intake, decreased milk production, decreased reproduction efficiency and reduced metabolic function. Morrill notes that lactating animals have increased water requirements compared to non-lactating and young stock. "These requirements do not change in the winter just because it is cold outside," she explains. Because even pre-weaned calves require water, she suggests providing warm water shortly after feeding milk, as "this is when the calves will get the most benefit." She adds that collecting the water buckets 20 to 30 minutes later prevents frozen buckets and provides another opportunity to observe the calves. 

Reprinted with permission from Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, www.pdpw.org