Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – While cattle are built to deal with the frigid temperatures like Alberta saw at the beginning of January, there are things that producers can do to help them weather the cold temperatures.
Dr. Melissa Moggy is a Veterinarian with Alberta Farm Animal Care.
She says the most important thing is to make sure they have water at all times.
“When our animals are going through cold stress, they’re not able to keep their body at a normal temperature without having to increase their metabolic rate, they’re going to need more food to create more heat, but livestock won’t eat if there’s no water,” Moggy says.
She says you can have all of the food you want out for them to eat, but it’s not going to help if there’s no water, which is what makes it so imperative.
Moggy says shelter is also very important.
She says the amount of bedding that is put in depends on the situation.
“There’s no hard and fast rule on how often you should add bedding because it’s going to depend on so many different factors, but the main thing that you want to keep in mind is that that bedding has to keep your animals warm and dry.”
Moggy says the best way to test it is to kneel in your bedding and if your knees get wet, that’s too wet for the animals to lay on and be able to keep them dry.
“I always recommend that farmers just always check their bedding if it’s soaked, you need to add more.”
Moggy says when it comes to weight gain you need to make sure you are concentrating on their weight gain in fall and even the summer.
“We’re planning on how we’re going to feed these animals so that they are in good condition going into winter because it’s so much easier to take care of livestock when they’re in good condition, going into a hard season rather than they’re skinny or weak. And you have to maintain that.”
Moggy says ideally you want to make sure your cattle all have a body condition score around three and three and a half for the harsh winter months.