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.