Shannon Mallory Kay County’s OSU AG Educator; Pets and Livestock Need Special Care in Colder Weather

Shannon Mallory, Agriculture Educator at Kay County OSU Extension - December 20, 2022 7:52 am

Thursday appears to be the start of a freezing spell that will last for about 5 days, which means farmers and ranchers will be donning their insulated bibs, thicker gloves, and their favorite stocking cap.

Let’s talk about taking care of livestock in these cold weather conditions. Specifically Feed, Water, and Shelter.

Fuel up the truck and tractor. Nothing is more fun than running out of fuel, and having to run into town on possibly icy roads so you can feed/water the livestock.

Power can go out, so be prepared to not have electricity in some cases.

FEED – Pick up extra feed now if need be, and have forage available for livestock before the freeze.

Having abundant and accessible feed will help animals maintain body temperature and survive cold temperatures.

Livestock need extra feed in severe and prolonged cold weather in order to keep up body heat and maintain body condition.

WATER – Regularly check water tanks. Make sure water is clean, free of ice, and in adequate supply. Make sure you have portable watering equipment or a way to maintain water for your livestock in case of extreme cold and ice. If feasible, use heaters in water tanks to provide livestock with adequate water.

Daily water needs for pets and livestock and dealing with frozen water:

  • Cat 20% of their bodyweight per day
  • Dogs 1 ounce per pound of bodyweight each day
  • Chickens 1/6th of a gallon per 10 chickens per day
  • Goats and Sheep 2-3 Gals/day
  • Hogs 4 gal/day
  • Horses 5-10 Gals/day
  • Dry cattle 15 gal/per day
  • Cows with calf at side 30-50 gals/day

We’re going to just assume you don’t have electricity. There are plenty of products out there that don’t use electricity that can help keep water thawed.

If possible, keep water indoors. Even a shed or lean-to can help keep water from freezing for a few more hours per day, providing more access to water.

With smaller animals, or less animals we can just refill water each day. This ensures fresh drinkable water. I like to keep an extra bucket in case one freezes solid and rotate each day.

Bobbing objects such as salt water in 2 liter bottles can help. Salt water freezes at a lower level than fresh water. Fill the 2 liter about 2/3 full of water, and as much salt as you can dissolve in the bottle. Toss the bottles into the water tank. (Salt Water freezing Temps are 28.4 degrees)

Scoop the ice out after breaking it. Each time you break ice removing the floating pieces can slow the refreeze of water.

SHELTER – Shelter simply means somewhere that livestock can get out of the weather. It’d be lovely to have a heated barn for all of the cattle in the world, but most will do just fine with a good windbreak. A windbreak being a line of trees or brush.

Contact the Kay County OSU extension office for questions and concerns. The office is open Monday thru Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at 226 S Maple in Newkirk or call 580-362-3194 or fax 580-362-2268.

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services.

 

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