America's cattle still suffering from frigid temperatures and drought

Articles
January 19, 2009

America's cattle still suffering from frigid temperatures and drought

This year's extreme cold weather is making a significant impact on cattle making it difficult for ranchers to meet the feed needs of their herds. Frigid temperatures continue to be locked into regions from the Midwest to the Northeast this Friday, while the drought in Texas maintains its grip. When the environmental temperature is below 32 degrees, cattle must increase heat production to maintain constant body temperature, to carry on the normal body processes, produce milk for their calves and maintain immunity against disease. To produce more heat, the cattle either must receive an increase in energy from their ration or draw from body stores. Cattle producers must increase the amount of feed or energy to compensate for the energy deficit as a result of the cold stress. Last week, temperatures from the Dakotas to Iowa struggled to get above 0ºF, after being near 40ºF on Monday. As the week progressed colder air continued to filter into the country's midsection, while spreading eastward. These Midwestern farms are finding their cows in a weakened state. These temperatures can make it difficult for ranchers to deliver the proper amount of feed to their cattle. There have been reports of cattle stuck in deep snow and even some dying in the field. The cold also has caused some water tanks to freeze up, not allowing animals to maintain proper hydration. Ranches are supposed to be equipped with proper heating devices to ensure access to water. Nevertheless, some neglectful farmers have not followed appropriate practices. Luckily, forecasters are predicting this week's temperatures to increase up to normal.

This year's extreme cold weather is making a significant impact on cattle making it difficult for ranchers to meet the feed needs of their herds. Frigid temperatures continue to be locked into regions from the Midwest to the Northeast this Friday, while the drought in Texas maintains its grip.

When the environmental temperature is below 32 degrees, cattle must increase heat production to maintain constant body temperature, to carry on the normal body processes, produce milk for their calves and maintain immunity against disease. To produce more heat, the cattle either must receive an increase in energy from their ration or draw from body stores. Cattle producers must increase the amount of feed or energy to compensate for the energy deficit as a result of the cold stress.

Last week, temperatures from the Dakotas to Iowa struggled to get above 0ºF, after being near 40ºF on Monday. As the week progressed colder air continued to filter into the country's midsection, while spreading eastward. These Midwestern farms are finding their cows in a weakened state. These temperatures can make it difficult for ranchers to deliver the proper amount of feed to their cattle.

There have been reports of cattle stuck in deep snow and even some dying in the field. The cold also has caused some water tanks to freeze up, not allowing animals to maintain proper hydration. Ranches are supposed to be equipped with proper heating devices to ensure access to water. Nevertheless, some neglectful farmers have not followed appropriate practices. Luckily, forecasters are predicting this week's temperatures to increase up to normal.

In West Texas, ranchers are having trouble keeping their cattle properly hydrated and fed due to a drought that has now lasted more than three months. Cooling waters in the Pacific off the South American coast may be the primary culprit in this dryness, as this signals a La Niña pattern possibly taking shape. In years with a La Niña, west Texas has often seen severe drought conditions.

Similar to the Midwest, many cows in Texas are reported to have died in the pasture. The drought has led to a lack of grass for grazing. Therefore, the cattle cannot get enough energy with scant sources of food.  Although ranchers can supplement with hay, the cows still suffer for a lack of protein needed to sustain these weather conditions. Unfortunately, La Niña patterns continue to develop, so forecasters do not expect the drought to let up this month.