When snow comes around cattle producers have to be prepared to do whatever they can to keep the cattle fed, watered, and given the tools to try to keep warm.
Going into winter it sure helps to start off with your cows to be in a good body score condition. This is a system used to assess body energy stores in beef cows. Energy stores are reflected primarily by the relative amount of fat available to metabolize as an energy source. So we always make sure our cows are looking good and getting fed enough going into winter.
These winter winds have made road after road blow shut several days in a row making it extremely hard to livestock producers to continually get to their cows day after day to feed, but we have managed to scoop and plow through snow to get to ours! Feeding bales of hay, range cubes, and breaking waterers or refilling waterers is a job that has to be done!
When it comes to winter weather cows require more feed in order to stay warm. When they eat they create heat & energy to warm them, but this doesn't happen with their regular diets. A rule of thumb is that every degree (wind chill included) below 32 degrees that they then require 1% more energy from their diets (which means increasing their feed). With this -46 windchill we have had, that doesn't allow us to feed that much more feed to our cows, because that would mean there could be digestive issues, but to be able to up their feed a small amount helps them increase some energy for a while, but essentially this is the most important reason to have a good body condition score going into winter, they can fall back on fat reserves.
In this picture you can see the snow on the cows backs. This actually is a good way of insulation for the cows to keep them warmer. As a cattle producer, we like seeing this sight!
Overall winter can be a very challenging time for cattle producers. Extra feed is needed, long hour days of digging their way to cattle, extra checking on them, lots of physical demanding jobs, and you could always have a few cows to start calving early with this kind of weather.
All I can say this year is we are extremely grateful to have good equipment to make our jobs easier, pickups that run well, and warm houses to go back to warm up in!