Beware of the cold snap

Sue Street – Senior Land Services Officer (Livestock)

With dry conditions and prolonged feeding some livestock unfortunately are not in the state we all would like them to be in at this time of the year. Also with the weather being uncharacteristically warm at the moment, this may have lulled us all into a false sense of security. Like us, once winter hits, it will a shock to the system for livestock.

So who are most at risk?

  • Newly born lambs and lambing ewes
  • Newly born calves and calving cows
  • Animals in low condition
  • Sick animals

There are a number of ways in which we can prepare for the cold snap and help reduce the effect of the cold on livestock. Ways to prepare are as follows:

  • Make sure livestock have shelter – by providing shelter you are helping to reduce the ‘wind chill’ factor
  • Animals are getting enough food for their requirements – i.e. the feed requirements for a dry cow are substantially less than a cow with calf at foot.
  • Animals that are most at risk are provided with shelter, enough feed and are checked regularly.
  • If possible provide some roughage, as rumination helps produce heat. BUT it does need to be a balancing act, as too much roughage at lambing and calving can have a detrimental effect on energy in feed, therefore roughage levels need to be between 10 and 20% at this time.
  • Feeding levels should be increased by 10 to 20% during severe weather (i.e. wind + rain + cold).

Just remember BOM and other weather apps have great weather warnings, so keep an eye out on these.


For more information contact your Local Land Services Ag advisory team member or District Vet.

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