With temperatures expected to stay below average, coupled with the extreme lows experienced in the recent past, poor spring runoff may not be the only issue cattle producers are faced with.

Colder temperatures mean producers have to increase feed in order to keep their cows at an ideal weight to ensure an optimal health and calving season, this year and next.

Dwayne Summach, livestock, and feed extension specialist said that feed needs are generally calculated for -20 and approximately, every 10-degree drop equates to an extra two pounds of feed per head, per day. With the -40’s and in some areas, -50’s experienced over the beginning of 2019, this means producers were having to increase their feed by two to four pounds of grain for each cow within their operation.

Summach also stated that if for whatever reason, the producer does not increase the feed to meet the energy requirements, they run the risk of the cows losing weight which could jeopardize their health and could create problems during calving.

“As a result, you get weak calves, you get cows that don’t want to stand up quick and it just snowballs from there,” said Summach. He added that not only could an underweight cow raise concerns for the current calving season, it also likely will increase the time required to get the cow back into calf next year.

With some operations already starting their calving season, Summach said with the colder than normal temperatures, more frequent and diligent checks on expectant cows are required to ensure any newborn calves are getting dried and into a warm area as soon as possible.

When asked about the perceived issue regarding lack of spring runoff, Summach shared that from a producers standpoint, there will be time to determine the best course of action, whether they will have to haul in water or drill for water or find some other solution, but he said there is still time.

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