farm winter survival

Winter Survival: Tips to Manage Your Cattle

Winter is an unforgiving time of survival as we press on against the howling, chilling winds. At this cold time of year, a large proportion of livestock are at risk of illness and even death if the right steps aren’t taken. To give your cattle the best chance of staying healthy and surviving, we’ve provided you with some key things to look out for and important for how to manage your cattle this winter.

Ensuring access to an ample amount feed

Cold temperatures can be significantly damaging for cattle given that the effects of wind chill and rain can reduce the body temperatures of vulnerable cattle below critical levels. This may result with your herd decreasing in their weight gain or in extreme cases, suffering mortalities. Because winter demands a greater level of energy for animals to keep up their body temperature, your cattle will need to eat more in order to stay warm and healthy.

Changing feed

Your cattle might need a boost in their nutrition aside from just grass, so providing them with access to cereal grain and feed pellets may be an option for providing a more energy-rich feed. Just keep in mind that rapidly introducing these substitutes can cause digestion issues if not done gradually. The NSW government’s local land services published an excellent guide for feeding cattle at this time of year to increase the chances of survival.

Securing access to multiple points of water

Like any time of the year, your cattle are going to need to have access to water. Having several smaller access points of water will be far more beneficial than one large points as cattle will likely crowd around a single large source, which will prevent those at the back from being able to access the water. Depending on a single water source can be problematic, as it will increase the risk of dehydration and lead to illness or death amongst your herd.

Conditions for sick cattle

Your cattle are more likely to become ill at this time of year, especially if they’ve just come out of a drought. That’s why any cattle who are sick or have a history of illness like respiratory disease should be separated from the rest of your herd to prevent the spread of disease and illness. This will also help them be easily identified, so that extra care can be given to them and they can recover quickly. These cattle should be kept with adequate shelter in a draught free environment to prevent the exacerbation of any illness.

Conditions for calves

Calves are some of your most vulnerable due to their small size and higher sensitivity to weather extremes. Special shelters need to be created and carefully managed for calving cows, inclusive of paddocks used by the mother and calf protected by shelterbelts. It’s essential that these cows are kept in a well-insulated, draught free area, as well as having ample access to food, water and warmth. 

Your next steps

Now that you’ve reviewed the needs of your herd and identified your most vulnerable groups, you might be wondering what your next steps are. The answer is simply putting it all together.

By making sure you have your cattle sheds that are able to withstand strong winds and any inclement weather, you’ll give your herd the best chance at survival. In addition to this, re-examining your water storage and delivery systems are a great way to prepare yourself for the coming months. In both of these cases, a great material for creating sturdy cattle sheds and for saving water in storage and delivery is galvanised steel.

Galvanised steel offers the key benefits of:

  • Reducing water evaporation
  • Strong resistance to extremes in weather
  • Strong resistance to rust

After you assess the needs of your farm, we recommend you ask for the advice of a local expert such as Steel Supplies Charters Towers. A local supplier will have a specialised understanding of your local climate, your operations and how to tailor the best advice for your operations.

Get in touch today!

Image source: Shutterstock (685560493)

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