Weather Forecast

A herd of cattle group together for warmth on a cold day in a feedlot near Toad Lake last week.

The cold facts of winter stress on cattle

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
(218) 847-9409 customer support
The cold facts of winter stress on cattle
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Cattle exposed to cold require more energy (but not protein) for maintenance. Performance can be reduced if action is not taken to provide more energy or providing shelter. Some suggestions for reducing winter stress and maintaining production in cold weather are:


1. Provide windbreaks and shelters to reduce wind speed.

2. Have lots with south slopes in area where average temperatures are higher and moisture conditions are lower.

3. During severe cold weather, bedding may be needed to prevent cattle lying down on frozen ground.

4. Cattle will voluntarily seek protection from snow, rain, wind and mud if it is available.

If cattle are provided with modest protection, either by natural means or man made structures, their exposure will be intermittent rather than continuous. The severity of the "effective temperature" can be greatly reduced by intermittent exposure provided by shelter.

Feeding management to reduce hay waste

Feeding hay to cattle is expensive, especially when quality hay is at a premium. Hay costs between two and eight cents per pound of dry matter; usually more than double the cost for the same amount of nutrients from pasture.

Hay is expensive because (1) it requires a large investment in equipment, (2) it requires labor to make and feed, and (3) when up to 50 percent of it can be wasted by either poor storage methods or improper feeding practices.

You wouldn't dream of throwing away one-third of your hay. That is what happens, though, when livestock are allowed unlimited access to hay. Livestock trample and waste 25 to 45 percent of the hay when it is fed with no restrictions.

When hay rings are used, you need to consider the space available around the feeder. Most hay rings have enough space for approximately 10 cows at a time. Hayracks with solid barriers at the bottom prevent livestock from pulling hay loose with their feet and dragging it out to be stepped on. The more aggressive cows will eat first and consume the more desirable hay. Cows that are more timid will be forced to eat the lower-quality material or go hungry. To make the most efficient use of hay rings, you may need to purchase several rings and feed more bales at one time.

As an example, a 30-cow herd would consume one 900-pound round bale per day. To feed a 30-cow herd, we could use one hay ring that is filled daily. But a better alternative would be to use three hay rings that are filled every three days. This gives every cow in the herd an opportunity to get the hay she needs, in addition to cutting labor costs. Similar calculations can be used with other types of hay feeders.

Check your pesticide applicator's license

Farmers who will have their pesticide applicators certification card expiring on March 1, 2009 can be recertified for three years by attending a recertification workshop instead of retaking the test. Recertification by retesting is also still an option, as in the past, and no changes have been made. Farmers who are not currently certified (i.e. not certified through March 1, 2009), must take the test to become certified. The cost to recertify, either by attending a recertification workshop or testing is $50.

A training workshop will be held Monday, Jan. 26 at the Hawley Community Center, 418 Main St., Hawley, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A second workshop will be held Friday, Jan. 30 at Minnesota State Community & Technical College, Room C103, 900 Highway 34 East, Detroit Lakes, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

If producers cannot make it to these training workshops, there are two more area training location sites: New York Mills and Fergus Falls. For information on those sites, please contact Vince Crary at the Ottertail County Extension Office in New York Mills, 1-218-385-5420. 0

For additional information about the pesticide applicator recertification process and training workshops, please contact Phillip Glogoza at the University of Minnesota Extension regional office in Moorhead, 218-236-2008 or 888-241-4527.

For information on the Detroit Lakes site please contact: Will Yliniemi, Extension Educator; at the Hubbard (218-732-3391) or Becker (218-846-7328) Extension Offices; by cell phone at 1-218-252-1042; or by e-mail at

Irrigation clinic Jan. 29 in New York Mills

The Central Minnesota Irrigator's Corporation (CMIC) will hold its annual Irrigation Clinic on Thursday, Jan. 29 at the VFW in New York Mills. This year's clinic will feature two presentations: "A Whole New World (The Economy Breakdown, Farm Bill, Input Buying & Market Update)" by Joe Burgard, marketing specialist with AgCountry Farm Credit Services; and "A Review of the Bio-Fuels Industry in Minnesota (Gasification, Biomass, Residues and Crops needed for Bio-fuels)" by Bob Schafer, director, Central Lakes Ag Center in Staples.

Additional topics related to irrigation agriculture, and informational resources and packets will also be presented during the day. The Irrigation Clinic will start at 8:30 a.m. with registration, and the program will begin at 9:20 a.m. and conclude by 1:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Vince Crary at the Ottertail County Extension Office (1-218-385-5420) in New York Mills or Will Yliniemi, Extension Educator and CMIC Educational Advisor, at the Hubbard (218-732-3391) or Becker (218-846-7328) Extension Offices; by cell phone at 1-218-252-1042; or by e-mail at