In Ontario, heavy flurries and plunging temperatures are standard during winter. Therefore, farm animals, especially cattle that overwinter outdoors, require increased nutrients to stay warm and resist illness. Here are a few tips for keeping your livestock in tip-top shape in freezing temperatures.
Monitor your herd’s body condition. How well your livestock tolerate the cold depends largely on their body condition score (BCS) at the onset of winter. For cattle, an ideal BCS is between 3.0 and 3.25. Thin cattle require between 50 and 70 percent more feed during a cold snap compared to a cow with some fat cover.
Increase rations. Give your animals plenty of high-quality forage to help them combat the cold weather. Livestock can require up to 30 percent more feed in winter conditions. As a rule of thumb, cattle need an additional one to two pounds of grain per day for every 10 C drop in temperature below -20 C.
Consider supplementing. Consider adding a high-quality supplement to fill in your herd’s energy gap and help them get the most out of existing forages. For instance, it’s recommended to supply your animals with a complete mineral supplement containing salt, calcium and phosphorus.
Provide adequate water. Ensure your livestock have constant access to clean, fresh water throughout the winter. Ice-crusted, wind-blown or trampled snow aren’t adequate sources of water. For instance, beef cattle require between 26 and 66 litres per day, while lactating dairy cows require up to 120 litres of water daily.
Watch the weather. When a winter storm is predicted, offer your animals more feed and water to prepare them for the changing conditions. Moreover, it’s important to plan ahead for available feed supplies so you never have to worry about running short.
Finally, poor feeding practices can cause you to waste more than 25 percent of your hay feed. Fortunately, Ontario Wholesale Farm Direct carries various cone-type and tapered-bottom feeders that greatly reduce hay waste. We also have round bale feeder options.
Farming Equipment in Southern Ontario
At Ontario Wholesale Farm Direct (OWFD), we carry a wide variety of farm supplies, including livestock feeders, cattle panels and heavy-duty wire fencing. We have everything you need to ensure your cows, goats, sheep and horses overwinter with ease. Whether you have a large commercial operation or a small hobby farm, OWFD has you covered. For more information about our products, contact us today.