, , , , , ,

Wisconsin Livestock Owners Prepare For Frigid Temperatures

Agriculture Experts: Shelter, More Food Needed To Protect Animals From Cold

cow in the snow
A cow stands in pasture during a winter snow storm, Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in Salisbury, Pa. Matt Slocum/AP Photo

Wisconsin farmers are gearing up to protect livestock during this week’s dangerously cold weather as temperatures are expected to stay well below zero across much of the state until Friday.

Some of the biggest concerns for livestock owners are maintaining dry bedding and supplying enough food, said Alana Voss, agriculture educator for the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Sauk and Juneau counties.

“They need to make sure that they’re increasing their feed amounts to help cover some of that energy that’s getting used to radiate heat,” Voss said.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Livestock owners will also be working to keep water for their animals from freezing, using tank heaters and refreshing water often.

“I’ve seen water heaters not able to keep up with the cold and with these temps, that’s going to be a very big concern,” Voss said.

Leeann Duwe, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said farmers need to make sure livestock have shelter from the wind.

“Whether it’s a three-sided barn or enclosure or some kind of windbreak, just to help get them out of the wind. Generally a 20 mile per hour wind is equal to a 30-degree drop in temperature,” Duwe said.

Wind chills are expected to dip below negative 50 degrees in some parts of the state.

Voss said dairy and beef producers are especially worried about young calves. She said most producers cover calves with blankets and special ear warmers to protect them from frostbite.

“Some farmers will even bring them into their home just to make sure that these animals are staying dry and safe and getting the nutrients that they need,” Voss said.

Animals that already have weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to the frigid temperatures.

“The extreme weather conditions could bring out illnesses that may not have been visible before and could make them worse,” Duwe said.

Duwe said farmers also need to protect themselves from the elements as they handle the increased workload.

Frostbite can occur in as little as 5 minutes, so people should cover any exposed skin and wear several layers if they have to be outside.