Will my girls survive?

It is expected to be the coldest it has been in our area in the last 20 years. On Friday, some schools were already annoucing that school would be closed on Monday – ours included. Since I don’t have to worry about my kids going out, the next concern was for the cows.

I asked Scott what we needed to do. My questions included:

  • “Do they make blankets for them?” Scott said, “If you can get close enough, for long enough, to tie a blanket around them, I could sure try that.” He has a very good point. They really wouldn’t be too interested in me tying anything around them.
  • “Do we need to move the stuff out of the barn so they can fit in there?” He reminded me that there was a shed they can go into to get out of the wind and when they huddle together closly, they stay pretty warm.
  • “Will they make it?” He said they should. He reminded me of how hot I got when I was pregnant. He said since they are pregnant, they have that extra internal heater going too. They also have grown extra think fur, have very think skin, and he will be giving them extra feed tonight and tomorrow so they get some extra calories in them.

Of course, I wanted to do a bit of my own research too and very easily stumbled across this article. http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/64058/publisher_ID/6/#sthash.mKSsdcNL.dpuf

In it, I found the following:

Gerald Stokka, associate professor of livestock stewardship for North Dakota State University, said, “It is very rare for adult beef cattle to succumb to weather-related injuries or death. On the face of it, this is amazing,” Stokka said. “How can cattle tolerate 40-below temperatures? How do their extremities, legs, feet or their ears, not freeze? “

The answer is not completely explainable, but adequate body condition, meaning a little fat cover, is a good insulator, good hair coats, thick skin and an internal pot belly stove are what keep cattle going in temperatures that you and I, even in winter clothing, could not tolerate for very long.

”Most of the livestock deaths due to weather conditions occur in late winter and early spring during calving season, said Charles Stoltenow, NDSU professor of animal sciences. “These are related not so much to extreme cold, but hypothermia caused by cold and wet weather conditions,” he said. “Most often animals that die from extreme cold are the very young or the very old. They do not have the body reserves needed to combat and survive the cold. In winter, the extreme cold and wind can lead to death. In late winter and early spring, cold wet weather is the problem.” – See more at: http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/64058/publisher_ID/6/#sthash.mKSsdcNL.dpuf

Thank heavens we don’t have any calves or very old animals to worry about. I will still be praying for my kids, my cows, and all living things that may not have easy access to warmth over the next few days.

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