A Seasonal Guide to Ensuring the Comfort of Cattle
Cattle are vulnerable to seasonal changes in climate – the variability in extremes can directly impact animals’ comfort and things like pasture growth. In Australia particularly, significant changes in climate have had an increasing effect over recent decades. Warmer temperatures in summer, severe droughts, bushfires and flooding and other unpredictable rainfall patterns all pose threats. This means farmers must invest time and energy to provide the most suitable environment for their cattle to live in. Ensuring the comfort of cattle is not only ethically important, but financially and legally as well. Consequences of failing to look after livestock’s wellbeing commonly include large fines and production of inferior-quality products.
Reproductive problems may arise in cattle due to severe weather conditions fluctuating throughout seasons. Newly born calves are prone to dehydration and in times of severe drought, deaths are common. Farmers must take several measures to meet the basic needs of cattle.
Below are some of the most important considerations farmers must take into account to mitigate the effects of seasonal forces on their livestock:
Design the cattle yard based on the herd’s needs and requirements
A well-designed cattle yard is essential for farmers to deal with unforeseen changes in weather throughout the seasons. Preventive measures should be considered by farmers to ensure the design of their yard is suited to mitigate seasonal effects on their livestock. Design must consider the potential for flooding and direction of flow for any water runoff. Bushfires also plague many regions all over the country. Ensure that precaution is taken against them by removing excess plant material. Finding the right amount of foliage over a yard or paddock means ample shade and functionality as a weather barrier. Strike a balance between plant shelter and bushfire fuel.
Provide shelter for cattle
While a healthy cow can tolerate a wide range of temperature if they receive adequate care, feed and water, shelters remain crucial for improving the welfare of the animal. Shelter provides refuge from the elements and this means cows don’t need to expend as much energy staying warm when being rained on. Shelter helps farmers keep their cattle in healthy condition and reduce production losses.
Provision frequently involves the construction of new shelters like steel sheds and barns. Use reflective materials like galvanised metals as they reflect the sun’s rays. This is a critical part of the process of protecting cattle from extreme weather conditions.
Overcrowding causes stress and discomfort to cattle. Adverse weather including climatic extremes cause animals to overcrowd the shelter. To avoid these severe conditions, all animals will begin to seek out shelter. Shelter provision is a crucial management practice that benefits livestock comfort and health growth and also reduces mortality.
Farmers and livestock handlers have a responsibility to ensure their yard is well-designed and equipped so that welfare of livestock isn’t compromised. For more information on the seasonal care of cattle, reach out to the team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.