Although the past few winters have been relatively mild in most cattle-feeding areas, long-range forecasts suggest this winter could bring more snow and cold weather to stress feedyard cattle.
Recalling the severe winter of 1992-1993, Kansas State University Livestock Extension Specialist Lance Huck says the feedyards that had the most success dealing with the weather that year had several management strategies in common.
- Waterers were winterized in early fall.
- Blizzard management plans were discussed with employees well in advance of inclement weather.
- Goals focused on keeping cattle dry through pen management and warm by maximizing feed intake.
- Pens were well maintained year round.
- A larger than normal labor force was employed.
- Extra equipment-front end loaders, dump trucks, bunk sweepers-was on hand prior to each blizzard.
- Crews worked around the clock, first piling, then removing snow from each pen.
- Upper management participated first-hand in the cleanup effort.
- Pens with new cattle were cleaned first.
- Huddles of new cattle were "stirred" often during the blizzard to prevent trampling and suffocation.
- Snow in feed alleys was removed, not just pushed aside.
- Employees and their families were rewarded with overtime pay and special appreciation celebrations following the cleanup.