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Local News

December 31, 2012

Cold cows have ranchers on the go

DUNCAN — Livestock are known to be resilient through most any weather condition but when the temperatures are consistently hitting below the freezing mark, there are a few measures their owners must take to keep them healthy.

Even after seasons where their natural grazing plain hasn’t been stressed by drought like the past couple of years have seen, the animals have a hard time finding their own nutrition.

“Most livestock with a decent plain of nutrition are able to withstand the cold,” said Max Gallaway, Oklahoma State Extension educator for agriculture for Stephens County. “They feel it but it doesn’t affect them the same as us.”

Having access to a protein and energy supply, as well as water, will usually be enough to sustain livestock. Although putting hay is out in pastures is pretty standard procedure, there are other aspects of cold weather that make it hard to provide the animals with what they need most.

“The hardest thing is going out and chopping the ice on ponds and making sure they have ample amounts of water,” Gallaway said. “It’s been cold for a few days but, for the most part, ice has not been a terrible issue.”

Gallaway mentioned that possibly the worst situation the animals are having to face between drought and cold conditions is the lack of wheat pasture, which is a high quality forage for them. Instead, they are getting whatever ranchers are able to hand feed to them.

On the majority, livestock can handle the freezing temperatures if they’re facing them in a healthy condition with a full stomach. As for dealing with the wind, most will find a way to block it with a surrounding items or each other.

“Ranchers make an extra effort to put out extra hay when they know weather like this is coming,” Gallaway said. “(Livestock) will use anything for a wind block. With trees or sides of buildings, if cattle can get away from wind, they will do it.”

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