Weather Effects on Cow Requirements

The effects of cold weather, wind, and precipitation have significant effects on energy requirements for cattle.  Research indicates that the Lower Critical Temperature for mature beef cattle with a wet hide is 59 oF, and that for every 1 oF below that temperature maintenance energy requirements increase 1.9%.  Additionally, rainfall can depress voluntary forage intake by 10 – 30% due to a reduction in time spent grazing.  The two images below show the cumulative rainfall in Oklahoma over the past five days and the minimum and maximum ambient air temperatures from yesterday (windchill not factored in).

As an example of how severe these effects can be, an non supplemented non-lactating cow in late gestation grazing warm-season pasture likely lost 1.5 – 2.0 lbs of BW per day since Monday due to rainfall, wind, and cold temperatures.  A fall calving cow supporting a young calf in the same conditions likely lost 2.5 – 3.0 lbs of BW per day.  That could be as much as 10 – 15 lbs of BW, respectively, in the last week.  When cold, wet weather happens, your cows need supplemental feed in order to mitigate the effects of weight loss due to adverse environmental conditions.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do. — Leonardo da Vinci