Preparing livestock for cold weather

By Dr Sue Street – Senior Land Services Officer (Livestock), April 2020

With the first cold weather system upon us this week there are a few things we need to remember about cold weather, especially if it involves wind chill and rain.

So who is most at risk?

  • Newly born lambs and lambing ewes
  • Newly born calves and calving cows
  • Animals in low condition, especially after drought
  • 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 the Bureau of Meteorology 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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