Supplementing Livestock During the Canadian Winter

Wintertime in Canada is a particularly challenging time for livestock.  As we look at some of the temperatures across the prairies – for instance Brandon -35°C, Lloyd -28°C, and The Hat -24°C – most cattle owners are thinking about added energy needs for their herd.

During these harsh conditions, low moisture and chemical cold pour tubs can become as hard as stone.  Loose mineral additives also become very hard to feed and helping to ensure cattle are equipped to handle these temperatures.

While things are set to improve in the upcoming weeks, these low temperatures are a normal part of farming on the prairies.

First and foremost, it is important to remember to make sure that your water supply system is functioning well.  There is nothing more detrimental to cattle than having frozen water systems.  A steady supply of water is important for cattle, and during times where increased energy is required a frozen water source can put unnecessary stress on the animals.

Feeding cattle with low moisture tubs once the temperatures increase is a great way to reduce recovery.  Over the years, we have observed a compensatory intake of the tubs following these low temperature spells, allowing the animals to rebound quickly.

One trick to help animals maintain its nutrient intake through our harshest season, is to increase the surface area of the tubs.  For example, if your feeding program calls for one tub to 22 animals, decrease the number of animals per tub by 15-20% – or in this scenario, one tub to 18 animals.  This will increase the amount of surface area available to each animal, helping to optimize their nutrient intake during the winter.

It is also important to make sure that animals are supplemented with an adequate amount of salt blocks and that the forage source being fed is easily accessible to the animals.  Taking steps to help maintain energy levels during our coldest months is the best way to ensure continued high performance from your herd.

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*Picture from Bryce sent yesterday of 5 animals trying to lick a LL tub

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