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Ranchers Should Prepare Livestock for Hard Freeze January 6th – 8th

Windchill forecast for Monday night through early Tuesday morning.

Windchill forecast for Monday night through early Tuesday morning.

[warning]The National Weather Service is forecasting wind chills below freezing for 48 hours from Monday night through Wednesday, with possible single digit wind chills on Monday and Tuesday nights.[/warning]

The following is the NWS forecast for Marianna for Monday through Tuesday night.

  • Monday:  Sunny, with a high near 37. Wind chill values as low as 20. Breezy, with a northwest wind around 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.
  • Monday Night:  Mostly clear, with a low around 16. Wind chill values as low as 5. Blustery, with a northwest wind 15 to 20 mph.
  • Tuesday:  Sunny and cold, with a high near 33. North wind 5 to 15 mph.
  • Tuesday Night Mostly clear, with a low around 18.
  • Wednesday:  Sunny, with high near 51.

Get the National Weather Service Forecast for your location: National Weather Service Tallahassee

Low temperature forecast for early morning on Tuesday, January 7.

Low temperature forecast for early morning on Tuesday, January 7.


[important]Ranchers should provide extra energy feed and ensure adequate water supply for livestock.  Temporary wind breaks and bedding materials can also help keep livestock warm.[/important]

Clemson Extension Extreme Cold Weather Tips for Livestock:

  • Hypothermia and dehydration are the two most probable life-threatening conditions for animals in cold weather.
  • Wet conditions and wind-chill add greatly to the cold-stress for animals (and people).
  • Pets should be brought inside or into protected covered areas, provided with plenty of bedding and food and drinking water.
  • Livestock should be provided with wind-break and roof shelter, and monitored for signs of discomfort (extensive shivering, weakness, lethargy, etc.)
  • It is very important that livestock be provided extra hay/forage/feed as up to double the calories for normal body heat maintenance may be needed in extreme cold.
  • It is critical that animals have access to drinking water. Usual water sources may freeze solid in low temperatures and dehydration becomes a life-threatening factor. Many of our animals, especially the young, may not know how or be unable to break several inches of ice to reach water. In general, animals tend to drink less in extreme cold, risking dehydration. Research with horses shows horses drink more water if it is warmed during winter weather.

Perdue Extension Extreme Cold Weather Tips for Livestock:

Mike Schutz, Purdue Extension dairy specialist, and Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist, provide some tips for livestock producers following winter storms.  Cattle are fairly tolerant to cold.  The problem is that people aren’t going to spend as much time observing them. With unusually cold temperatures and even colder wind chills, they will suffer and potentially get sick.

  • Producers should provide shelter from prevailing winds to ensure cattle’s safety. This can be done with wooden or shade cloth windbreaks, or temporary relief is possible by using round bales and farm equipment. Grazing cattle also should have access to natural or man-made windbreaks in the form of a shelter, building or tree line.
  • Beef cattle grazing in a pasture also benefit from bedding.  Bedding can be created by busting some straw bales throughout the pasture or unrolling old round hay bales.
  • Cattle aren’t likely to develop pneumonia if they are getting an adequate energy supply through their feed. Cattle consume 15 percent to 20 percent more feed in extremely cold conditions.  The rule of thumb for beef cattle is that the energy requirement increases 13 percent for each 10-degree drop in temperature below 30 degrees for cattle with moderate body condition and a winter hair coat.  Energy requirements increase 30 percent for each 10-degree drop in temperature below 30 degrees when cows are wet, thin or still have a summer coat.  This increased energy requirement cannot be met by putting more hay out. It will require switching to higher quality feeds or by supplementing with grain.


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