Cattle are on the road year-round. Transporting cattle in extreme weather conditions is unadvisable, but oftentimes necessary. Extreme wind and cold conditions can have drastic adverse effect on the health of cattle. Unprotected cattle hauled at highway speeds can be subject to dangerous wind chill. If cattle are wet, the danger is even greater.

Extreme cold and wind conditions exist when the wind chill is below 0° F. Extreme wind and cold conditions can be viewed in the gray area of the wind chill index chart. If possible, avoid transporting cattle in extreme wind and cold conditions. If cattle must be transported in cold and windy conditions, avoid stopping if at all possible. It is critical to deliver cattle to their destination as quickly as possible.

Cold weather precautions before transporting cattle

  • Supply ample bedding, such as straw, when the temperature is below 10° C (50° F) because it provides good insulation and helps to keep animals warm and dry. Remove wet bedding after each trip to prevent it from freezing in the vehicle.
  • Overcrowding does not allow animals to reposition themselves and frostbite can occur in individuals.
  • Close nose vents in the vehicle.
  • Cover bottom ventilation slats in the vehicle to protect cattle from the cold and road spray, but allow for adequate ventilation at all times.

Warning signs of cold stress or discomfort during transport

  • Cattle eat available bedding.
  • Fluid frozen to the face or nostrils.Shivering.

This information was excerpted from the Master Cattle Transporter Guide available from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.