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Snowstorms, High Winds, Low Temperatures Cause Cattle Production Loss

Cattle typically can withstand a single snowstorm.

Cattle typically can withstand a single snowstorm. However, this winter's back-to-back snowstorms combined with high winds and low temperatures mean cattle may not make it to market as fast, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln beef cattle specialist says.

Keeping cattle fed, dry and comfortable is critical for accomplishing production goals, said Terry Mader, University of Nebraska beef cattle specialist.

"These wintry conditions mean producers must put forth greater efforts to ensure cattle have adequate access to feed and water, and producers also must provide greater quantities of feed to offset the extra energy they need to maintain desired levels of production," Mader said. "Under cold and windy conditions, which we are experiencing this winter, cattle energy requirements just for maintenance increase by at least 50%."

If cattle's hair coat is muddy or wet, maintenance requirements may be twice normal levels needed for maintenance, which for feedlot cattle may result in 10 to 20 more days on feed before cattle can go to market.

"Winter arriving early often ends up as a long winter," Mader said. "Hopefully, that will not be the case this year, but the recent extensive and abundant snowfalls have left many open cattle operations covered with snow with limited access to dry areas for feeding and caring for the cattle."

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