Windbreaks, both constructed and planted, can improve conditions for livestock in windy and cold conditions. Increasing the effective temperature that an animal is exposed to during cold weather keeps them comfortable, more efficient users of feed, and at a lower risk of cold stress which can lead to disease.
Many calves were born during the April blizzard last week. Many calves survived as a result of the hard work of ranchers, giving them warmth and shelter in barns, garages and even bathrooms to save their lives.
According to rangeland and pasture specialists, there are four basic types of grazing systems: continuous grazing, deferred rotational grazing, rest rotational grazing, and management-intensive grazing.
With the colder than average temperatures South Dakota has experienced this spring, normal cool season grass growth has not yet occurred. As a result, the risk of grass tetany may be delayed, but could also be a higher risk due to the cold soil temperatures.
As it appears that winter is going to hang on longer than normal this year, it is important to be thinking about your herd bulls well before the start of the breeding season.
Grazing involves a number of variables, including: carrying capacity of the land, type and distribution of the livestock, water distribution, and number of pastures. A combination of both proper grazing techniques and grassland management will improve harvest efficiency and lower production costs.
In the Upper Midwest, stored forages bound with net wrap or twine are predominate winter feedstuffs on livestock operations. A concern often expressed by producers, is if binding material needs to be removed prior to feeding bales, as consumption and possible accumulation might have a negative impact on the performance and health of animals.
Developing or purchasing replacement heifers is a huge investment and potential financial returns depends on future calf production. Research has indicated that it takes net revenue from approximately 6 calves to cover the development and production cost of each replacement heifer.
As South Dakota livestock producers dig out of the snow left from the April 13 and 14th blizzard, they should be keeping track of death losses due to the storm. Death losses of calves higher than what is considered normal (5%), may be eligible for financial assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA).
Cold stress with cattle is often associated with below zero temperatures, especially in South Dakota. In reality, cattle that are adapted to the cold conditions found in northern plains winters can function and perform well under a wide range of conditions. Under dry conditions with a heavy winter hair cost, a mature cow can tolerate temperatures down into the teens, especially if she has some wind protection.