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Winter weather excitement

Dave Barz, DVM
For the Jan. 16, 2010 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

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Wow has winter been exciting. We seem to have more snow already than we have had for many years. This inclement weather brings out a few characteristics which are necessary to maintain our rural lifestyle.

Some local beef herds were having dispersal sales of their mama cows at the local sale barn. Several hundred were brought to the market to be tested and sorted the day before in spite of the prediction of a winter storm. Morning arrives and the decision is made for the sale to go on.

The snow increased through the morning. We sold 400 cull cows to five buyers in the seats. The wind was predicted to increase and the interstate was closed. Around noon the fat cattle sold to a very small group of sellers and buyers. Who would brave the weather to purchase the bred cows.

The predicted sale time for the mama cows was 1:30 and several dozen buyers arrived through the storm. They purchased all the cows and were willing to pay a little extra for the local owner’s cows. Most buyers were in a hurry to get home because they needed to feed their cows. All made it home safely in spite of the weather and the closed interstate.

I’m always impressed by the willingness of farmers and ranchers to help their neighbors. They braved the storm to make sure the cows brought a fair price. I don’t think “non-rural” people understand the interdependence of ranchers and their neighbors. They get together to help drive, sort, work and yes sell their produce. With the high cost of labor, no one can afford to hire all the help they need.

Also, the dedication of the herd owners is exemplified. Even with a raging storm and the interstates closed, these producers needed to feed their stock. I don’t think most people understand the personal sacrifice most ranchers make daily to care for their stock. You can’t just sit in the house and wait for the storm to blow out. You must prepare your stock and be ready for adversity. In this cold weather, if you aren’t close when a calf is born, it will die of exposure. We had a calf born in the storm and within two hours its body temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Slow warming, milking the cow, and feeding colostrum revived the calf. In another hour, the calf wouldn’t have made it.

Farmers and ranchers produce food for the world. In most instances they are never sufficiently financially rewarded for their time and efforts. In spite of weather cattle need to be fed, watered and bedded. If you are not prepared and diligent, you will have financial losses.

The prolonged cold temperatures have severely stressed our animals. Be sure the roughage they are getting is of good quality. If you need to add energy to their diets you can add some corn or distillers grains. One thing which is often overlooked is water. The cow’s rumen ferments and digests fiber into the nutrients she needs. This process releases heat which helps the cow maintain its body temperature. These reactions can only occur efficiently if they have an adequate water supply.

Our farmers and ranchers are the most efficient food producers in the world. They are also conscious stewards of the land, resources and livestock they control. Hopefully the New Year will be rewarding for you financially and personally as you interact with your friends and neighbors.

Wow has winter been exciting. We seem to have more snow already than we have had for many years. This inclement weather brings out a few characteristics which are necessary to maintain our rural lifestyle.

Some local beef herds were having dispersal sales of their mama cows at the local sale barn. Several hundred were brought to the market to be tested and sorted the day before in spite of the prediction of a winter storm. Morning arrives and the decision is made for the sale to go on.

The snow increased through the morning. We sold 400 cull cows to five buyers in the seats. The wind was predicted to increase and the interstate was closed. Around noon the fat cattle sold to a very small group of sellers and buyers. Who would brave the weather to purchase the bred cows.

The predicted sale time for the mama cows was 1:30 and several dozen buyers arrived through the storm. They purchased all the cows and were willing to pay a little extra for the local owner’s cows. Most buyers were in a hurry to get home because they needed to feed their cows. All made it home safely in spite of the weather and the closed interstate.

I’m always impressed by the willingness of farmers and ranchers to help their neighbors. They braved the storm to make sure the cows brought a fair price. I don’t think “non-rural” people understand the interdependence of ranchers and their neighbors. They get together to help drive, sort, work and yes sell their produce. With the high cost of labor, no one can afford to hire all the help they need.

Also, the dedication of the herd owners is exemplified. Even with a raging storm and the interstates closed, these producers needed to feed their stock. I don’t think most people understand the personal sacrifice most ranchers make daily to care for their stock. You can’t just sit in the house and wait for the storm to blow out. You must prepare your stock and be ready for adversity. In this cold weather, if you aren’t close when a calf is born, it will die of exposure. We had a calf born in the storm and within two hours its body temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Slow warming, milking the cow, and feeding colostrum revived the calf. In another hour, the calf wouldn’t have made it.

Farmers and ranchers produce food for the world. In most instances they are never sufficiently financially rewarded for their time and efforts. In spite of weather cattle need to be fed, watered and bedded. If you are not prepared and diligent, you will have financial losses.

The prolonged cold temperatures have severely stressed our animals. Be sure the roughage they are getting is of good quality. If you need to add energy to their diets you can add some corn or distillers grains. One thing which is often overlooked is water. The cow’s rumen ferments and digests fiber into the nutrients she needs. This process releases heat which helps the cow maintain its body temperature. These reactions can only occur efficiently if they have an adequate water supply.

Our farmers and ranchers are the most efficient food producers in the world. They are also conscious stewards of the land, resources and livestock they control. Hopefully the New Year will be rewarding for you financially and personally as you interact with your friends and neighbors.


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