Managing cold stress in cattle herds


Bitterly cold temperatures have moved in across the country.  Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager  says with wind chills below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, cattle need more energy.  “One way to do that is to improve the quality of forage,” he says.  “In other words – feed better hay.  That’s one way to offset things.  But, typically we talk about adding talk about adding an energy source like soybean hulls, corn gluten feed, or even corn.”

He tells Brownfield the energy requirement for cattle in moderate body condition with winter hair coat goes up roughly 13 percent for each 10 degree drop in wind chill factor below 30 degrees.

Lemenager explains.  “Today we’re talking about wind chill factors around -20 and -30,” he says.  “If the cows don’t have a windbreak that’s 60 degrees.  That’s 6 units of 10 or multiple 6 by 13 to figure out the increased energy requirements are for these cows.”

And, he says, it takes about one pound of these high-energy feeds per animal per day for each 10-degree drop in wind chill.

He adds feeding herds in the late afternoon or early evening can help to increase the animals’ body heat going into those lowest night temperatures.


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