When winter months are on the horizon, it is critical to consider the needs of feedlot cattle and the winter management of your herd. Do you have adequate preparation for the winter months for your animals? Are proper shelter and winter feeding preparations in place? Why are they important?

The best winter management practices contribute to healthy, productive cattle while maintaining feed cost and ethical care. It is key to the success and survival of the long winter.

The essential oil blend New Heritage Feed Co. offers is proven, tested, and proprietary. They have partnered with a company who’s chemists have been leaders in the essential oil and natural health market for a decade. New Heritage Feed Co. always has the community, customer, and animal in mind.

New Heritage Feed Co. proprietary cattle feed and the following winter management suggestions will help ensure successful cattle performance.

How Weather Impacts Cattle Performance

Feedlot Cattle and Winter Management. Man feeds cattle in winter.

With cold temperature exposure, animal body heat increases. The increase occurs through an elevated metabolic rate (increased heart rate, respiration, and blood flow).

Even with increased food intake, there is often insufficient weight gain during winter months due to the increased metabolic rate. Assisting in body temperature regulation is an essential component for farmers regarding feedlot cattle and winter management.

Feedlot cattle grow longer hair, internally adjust metabolism, and secrete specific hormones to assist in winter survival. Keeping feedlot cattle hair dry can help them with maintaining proper body temperature in harsh conditions.

Why is dry hair so crucial in severe weather? Wet, muddy coats profoundly impact feedlot cattle and winter management success. Cattle rapidly drop body temperature if their hair is wet as they cannot correctly insulate.

Weather is out of our control, but farmers can make efforts to help cattle thrive during the winter. Meeting energy and shelter needs are vital components in feedlot cattle winter management.

Energy Needs of Feedlot Cattle During the Winter

cows feeding in the snow

The energy needs of cattle can vary based on size and age. Adjustments must be made to the diet to coordinate with outside temperature and weather conditions.

Cows in better health can withstand temperature change better. Cows may not be concerned with eating the first couple of days of cold weather. They are more worried about shelter and maintaining body temperature.

As days pass, they will begin to increase their energy needs. Adding a feed to their diet is helpful. Relying on corn alone will likely not be sustainable, nor will a diet substituted with the cattle grazing on bedding.

Do not be surprised if cattle do not come readily to the bunk to feed during cold weather. There is potential for wasted feed as winds carry away food before or after they provide. Storm ration with increased forage proportion can be helpful for feedlot cattle and winter management food delivery.

There are additional concerns to consider the energy needs of feed cattle, including the cattle and windchill size.

Thin cows have difficulty withstanding long periods of cold temperature. Average or fleshy condition cows fair better as their bodies can adjust better to critical body conditions.

Windchill can affect how much feed a cow needs. Determine windchill by combining wind speed with the current temperature. On average, cattle will consume 105 to 110 percent of their predicted weight when the weather outside drops below 22 F.

With severe cold, a windchill of minus 20 F or lower, cattle may be reluctant to feed at a bunk. A proper feed with high digestibility rations allows for compensation of their increased energy needs during extremes.

Farmers should adjust feed and provide more energy if numerous days or weeks of inclement weather occurs. Cold weather generally tends to increase food intake; however, change for energy needs if there is a storm. Feedlot cattle often do okay with hay to keep the rumen functioning and adapt to a high energy feed again once the storm has passed.

For successful feedlot cattle and winter management during storms and cold weather, shelter is just as important as meeting energy requirements.

Shelter for Feedlot Cattle and Winter Management

Dairy Farm in Winter

Proper shelter is crucial during winter weather. Adequate protection reduces the energy needs of cows. Keeping the wind off of the calves is helpful. Tree windbreaks or shelterbelts work well. It is important to design shelters in a way that calves do not bunch together.

Wind fences are great for feedlot cattle and winter management. In combination with mature trees, wind fences are ideal, giving wind protection and a covering from the snow.

Proper planning and facility design can help farmers mitigate some extreme winter conditions that can affect feedlot cattle and winter management.

Bedding is not as useful for feedlot cattle during the winter months as it offers inadequate nutrition and may cause bloat. Proper shelter and wind protection should be a priority instead.

Care for bulls may look different than care for feedlot cattle during the winter.

It is crucial to have bulls in proper body condition going into winter. In extreme conditions, they can lose weight, have testicular damage, or suffer from frostbite.

Health hazards due to weather can cause future reproductive damage for the bulls. Unlike with feedlot cattle, consider bedding for bulls in cold, damp, muddy weather conditions. The bedding may offer additional protection to the reproductive organs of the animal.

Importance of Water for Feedlot Cattle and Winter Management

Cows by Old, snow-covered barn

Cattle need to have adequate water available at all times during the winter months. Heated water fountains are the most common delivery method.

Clean water fountain basins often. Proper water temperature checks completed regularly will ensure the functionality and keep them from freezing.

Cattle will drink less during severely cold weather. As temperature moderates, they will then increase how much water they drink to adapt. Allowing for proper hydration is an essential step for success in feedlot cattle winter management.

Include New Heritage Feed Co. Cattle Feed in Your Feedlot Cattle Winter Management Plan

New Heritage Feed Co. offers three variations of cattle feed: 20% Sweet Calf Starter with Essential Oils, 36% Dairy Beef Grower, and 36% Beef Finisher.

Their naturally sourced feed offers a holistic approach to meet the energy needs of your animals. After all, they only deserve the very best, through every season of the year.