NASHVILLE— As the temperatures plummet and the icy conditions take hold, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is urging citizens to take steps to keep livestock safe and healthy.
“Most livestock tolerate cold weather well,” state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “However, extreme temperature changes can have a dramatic impact on an animal’s health and performance.”
Access to fresh water is a must. Stock tanks and ponds should be monitored closely and any ice should be broken if freezing occurs.
Quality hay, feed or forage is critical. Livestock will consume more hay during cold weather as their bodies use the material to create heat during digestion. If you are not already feeding grain, consider adding it as an additional source of nutrition. A parasite control program will also ensure that feed is being digested and used appropriately.
While a barn, shed or roofed shelter is ideal during a winter storm, they aren’t always necessary. A natural barrier, like a row of trees or a bank, can provide coverage to block the wind and provide some relief from precipitation.
Finally, check your livestock daily, as health problems can worsen more quickly in extreme weather situations. Special attention should be paid to animals that are very young or very old, as they may be less able to tolerate the conditions. Consult your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.
The state veterinarian is responsible for monitoring for animal disease and promoting animal health in Tennessee. The office works with private veterinarians, animal pathologists and disease diagnostic laboratories to identify diseases and determine the cause of animal deaths.