非营利性出版物Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Early winter blast prompts livestock producers in Kentucky to think about cold months ahead

由Aimee Nielson.


“The combination of cold air and wind create windchills that cause dangerous and emergency-category periods of livestock cold stress,” said Matt Dixon, agricultural meteorologist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Ag Weather Center.

Livestock producers should make sure animals have adequate shelter, water, dry bedding and feed to make it through cold periods. Pet owners should bring pets indoors. Animals have a higher requirement for energy in the colder months, which means they need high-quality grains and forages.

Animals have a higher requirement for energy in the colder months, which means they need high-quality grains and forages. (Photo by Aimee Nielson)

“The average horse, with a lower activity level, should eat between 1.5 and 2 percent of its body weight in feed per day to maintain its weight,” said UK equine specialist Bob Coleman. “That feed requirement goes up in the winter, as horses use more calories to keep warm. He recommended providing extra hay and making sure horses have shelter to get out of windy, damp weather.”


Ambient temperatures can impact the amount of dry matter cattle eat, providing an opportunity to compensate for increased maintenance energy needs. Producers either need to increase their animals’ feed intake or increase the energy density of the diet by feeding higher quality hay or adding more grain or fat to the grain mix, UK beef specialist Jeff Lehmkuhler said.


“Poor quality hay may not provide adequate energy to maintain gestating cows that are entering the third trimester,” he said. “Consider having the hay tested to determine if you need to supplement during times of possible cold stress, especially for the enduring cold spells.”



“Poorly managed barns combined with poor ventilation may actually hamper efforts to improve the environmental conditions. Energy or calories are critical. If the protein level in the forage is adequate, do not make supplement decisions based on protein level; rather purchase the most affordable calories. Stay warm and keep the waterers flowing.”









Dairy producers should make sure cows’ teats are dry before turning animals out when temperatures fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

“如果你变成一个动物用湿乳房or teats, frostbite is almost a certainty,” said Michelle Arnold, UK extension veterinarian. Treat signs of frostbite immediately, since damage to the teat ends can quickly lead to damage of the keratin seal and that can allow mastitis-causing bacteria to enter the udder.”