Loving Farm Life – Caring for Livestock in the Cold

Today we are introducing staff member Julie Hammer, who is sharing some insights from her farm in eastern South Dakota. We are thrilled to have Julie working as our Visitor Services Coordinator. As you work to survive winter weather, we hope you’ll enjoy hearing from Julie about how farmers care for livestock in the cold.

Hammer Cattle, Baltic, South Dakota. Image courtesy Julie Hammer.

It’s cold out! Wouldn’t it be nice to be in control of the weather, so we could care for our livestock in a perfect environment? We can only wish. All year cattle producers like us are planning about caring for our livestock, no matter what the weather.

As cattle producers, we plan on cutting our hay three times during the summer and if the weather corporates sometimes we get four cuttings. We chop corn silage, which we pile and tarp, to feed the cows through the winter. After corn harvest we rake and bale cornstalks for a feed filler and for bedding. We have pellets and corn ration delivered on regular basis from the local elevator.

We’ve dealt with some cold weather this winter. As the cold set in on Christmas morning my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I moved the cows from the corn field across the road (where they had been grazing and drinking water from the creek) to our farm. That way our cattle would be closer to feed and have automatic waterers.  Winter weather means we get out more and more layers of clothing, vehicles to warm, tractors to plug in, waterers to check (and some to thaw out). As the cold set in and stayed for several days things began to go south and “that doesn’t mean warmer” fan belts broke, breakers blew, tractors didn’t start, hydraulic hoses busted, heaters quit working, and oh yes! it has been -25 degrees with a wind chill around -39. You know it’s cold when the dog stays in the truck and watches you do chores. I guess it’s expected, we do live in South Dakota!

Though the cold was a bit unbearable to us humans we do what we must do to make sure our livestock stay healthy. We make sure the waterers are working properly and feeding is done regular with hay and filler always available. As we have experienced time and time again weather is factor and we just make sure the job is done right.

I want to wish our fellow producers a safe and healthy calving season as many have already started in this bitter cold! And to all you beef consumers out there, remember: farmers are working hard to raise food for your families.

Loving farm life!

Julie Hammer