A livestock specialist is advising farmers to keep a close watch on their animals as another winter storm moves into the state. Dale Thorsen with Iowa State University Extension says certain weather conditions pose a danger to animals who otherwise adapt surprisingly well.
“Cold and windy and wet is by far the worst situation…once they get their hair coat wet, their insulation capability drops dramatically,” Thorsen said. “So, we need to keep them dry and out of the wind. Then, they can get along quite well unless they’re very small animals.”
Thorsen suggests increasing the amount of feed to help with energy levels in the extreme cold. But, the most important thing is having fresh water available at all times. “Keeping the waters free of ice is very important,” Thorsen said. “(Water) is probably still one of the cheapest source of nutrients we have. It doesn’t have to be heated, but it does have to be free of ice.”
Thorsen says cold temperatures present less of a problem when the sun is out. He says a winter storm with freezing rain and lots of wind is the worst combination because the animals lose the insulation from their coat and are more likely to become ill or die.