How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

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How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Brookhill Angus » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:32 pm

-50 to -60 degrees below zero? How in God’s name does a cattle operation deal with this? What do you do with the calves, how do the cows even nurse their calves, what happens to bulls?

https://www.axios.com/life-threatening- ... 64813.html


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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by ez14. » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:59 pm

This was only -8 not sure what the wind chill was. But they had a nice layer of frost

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Nesikep » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:01 am

I think Aaron is in the thick of it..

So far we've had a VERY mild winter, got down to about 10F for a week or so, currently 25F, daytime is above freezing
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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Son of Butch » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:22 am

Elkhorn Ranch North Dakota, established by Teddy Roosevelt in 1884.
Winter of 1886-87 was one of the harshest on record in the last 200 years. 60% of Roosevelt's herd died that winter.
He quit ranching in the spring of 1887 due to what came to be called the starvation winter of '87.
As with most animal populations in extreme conditions 1/3 survive and go on to replenish the population or migrate
to areas with better living conditions.

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Aaron » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:37 am

Nesikep wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:01 am
I think Aaron is in the thick of it..

So far we've had a VERY mild winter, got down to about 10F for a week or so, currently 25F, daytime is above freezing
Supposed to hit between -55 to -60F (or possibly even below that) the next 3 days. National weather service out of Duluth, MN is saying International Falls, MN (me) is supposed to be colder than we have been for many years. The last time it hit -60, must have been close to a decade ago. I can't remember exactly because I think my brain froze for a short period then. Everything will be well fed and bedded out of the wind and then just cross fingers that everything wakes up the following morning. Sometimes they don't if they are old or weak. Right now, 5:30 AM it is -10F - almost a heat wave. :banana: :banana: :banana:
cor durum laborem

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by T & B farms » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:09 am

I can’t eveb imagine that cold. No thanks. Going to have wind chill -10+ here the next couple days, that’s plenty for me. Won’t be much sleeping going on, has not been the greatest year for Jan calving

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Bright Raven » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:12 am

T & B farms wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:09 am
I can’t eveb imagine that cold. No thanks. Going to have wind chill -10+ here the next couple days, that’s plenty for me. Won’t be much sleeping going on, has not been the greatest year for Jan calving
Kentucky probably gets about the same weather as you get in SE Kansas. It has been brutal over here. That is why I prefer early fall calving.
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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by sstterry » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:44 am

Bright Raven wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:12 am
T & B farms wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:09 am
I can’t eveb imagine that cold. No thanks. Going to have wind chill -10+ here the next couple days, that’s plenty for me. Won’t be much sleeping going on, has not been the greatest year for Jan calving
Kentucky probably gets about the same weather as you get in SE Kansas. It has been brutal over here. That is why I prefer early fall calving.
I think the Ky temperatures are about the same, but that Kansas wind is a killer when it is cold!

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by True Grit Farms » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:12 am

When it gets really cool here we feed every day and set out 8 - 10 rolls of our poorest hay for bedding and hope for the best. Any thing below 20 is to dang cold for man or beast.
If we'd of know this we'd of picked our own cotton.

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Redgully » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:29 am

Wow, the coldest we have ever experienced here is around 20f. Can't imagine what colder than that is like! Mind you we do get a lot of days up around 110. Hottest i remember was 116 back in 91. It was 101f today, that'd melt some snow!

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by lithuanian farmer » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:47 am

The lowest temp here which I remember was -31F. Luckily the lowest this year was -4. Last year it was down to -15 and we had some cows calving then. Remember covering calves deeply in bedding and leaving them for the night. If temp was as low as -60, there would be very few survivors...

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Rydero » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:11 am

Here(Manitoba) we'll hit a stretch of -40F every winter. For the most part the cattle do fine, just eat a ton and suffer through it. We have lots of bush and try to feed close to one that blocks whatever wind we have that day(we had all 4 directions this last week). Feed good hay when its cold.
We do cow/calf and calve in April so no calves on the cows during this weather for the most part. Last spring we had weird weather and it hit -20F and below in April for about a week. At that point calving gets hard. Checks on the cows calving every hour 24 hours a day, if anyone calved put the calf in the sleigh and take to the garage to a pen beside a wood stove. Put a fire on and dry the calf. Let it sleep and dry for an hour or 2. On with the earmuffs and back out to momma for a suck (daytime) or dried colostrum and wait till morning. Try to keep the muffs on for a couple days if possible. Chapping on the udder can get a little rough but only a week so when it warmed up it got better. Big operations calving January/February around here need big barns and usually have a heated/insulated pen or two. Don't tag calves when it's really cold - tagging messes up the circulation and the ear can freeze up to the tag. For the most part after a couple days the calves are good with shelter and lots of bedding. If it's warmer than 14F they don't need any assistance during the day, maybe towel off at night or heifer doesn't lick it good enough.
Bulls - you need to watch their scrotum in the spring for signs of frostbite on the bottom, semen test is important. Ideally lots of shelter and lots of bedding. Something I admit we need to work on.

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Stocker Steve » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:48 am

Herefords have a wooly coat, and will wake up with a coating of white on them.
Shiny straight haired stuff has to hump up till the grain cart shows up, or the weather changes.
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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Logar » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:58 am

Cattle can handle that weather as long type of weather as the following are in hand:

1. Healthy animals.
2. A good layer of fat - no thin cows.
3. Well fed.
4. Well bedded.
5. Out of the wind and capable of getting in to the sun.
6. Well watered. (Yes because when they eat snow they have to use body heat to melt it)
7. Some grain or corn to keep energy levels up.

I can honestly state I have been in those temps with cattle and done quite well. In my opinion, the often maligned Hereford manages this and probably better than most breeds - however almost all breeds can handle this weather when the above conditions are met.

Best to all.

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Re: How do cattle survive a polar vortex?

Post by Silver » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:11 am

I always noticed that cows that ate snow just lick a little here and there and show no ill effects from the cold. I have also watched cattle come to water and take on several gallons then hump up and shiver for awhile. So I'm not convinced water is better for them fighting the cold. I would agree that less food energy is consumed though. Having said that, after many years of our cows using snow as their winter water source I have had them on water for a few years now and if nothing else I feel better about it. :nod:
I also think that cows are better equipped to deal with extreme cold than extreme heat.
A place to get them out of the wind and some bedding is of course also important.

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