As the year winds down and we head into January, the temperatures reach their lowest points and snow and ice storms welcome us in the New Year. Farmers and ranchers know that extreme weather can be especially dangerous for livestock. Minimize your risk and protect your herd with these helpful tips.

Provide Adequate Shelter
Your livestock will weather the storm much better indoors. If possible, move them into a barn or similar shelter that will provide warmth and protection from the wind. No buildings large enough? Try rotating the animals in and out so that no single animal is out during the worst of the conditions. Consider providing wind blocks for animals outside during severe weather to help shield them from the biting cold.

Feed the Need
Livestock will need more food and water during extremely cold weather to help them maintain body temperature. Depending on how cold it is, consider increasing feed. Some larger livestock consume twice their normal food amount during cold snaps.

Limit Time in Concrete Pens
Cattle and pigs can develop foot problems from walking on slippery concrete in rainy/snowy conditions. To combat this, line concrete pens with woodchips or sand or transition to gravel floors. These will be easier on hooves and joints.

Be Conscious of Noses and Ears
The noses and ears of livestock are especially vulnerable to frostbite as they can easily become wet or damp. This can put animals in danger of losing these parts when the temperatures plunge. Keep an eye on your livestock and shelter those that are having the most difficulty with the weather.

Keep a Special Eye on Babies
It goes without saying, but the youngest members of your herd will have the hardest time adjusting to extreme temps. Shelter young livestock first and monitor them for signs that they might be struggling.

As a farmer or rancher, your livestock is your livelihood. Before the temperatures plummet, talk to your Mountain West Farm Bureau agent about our farm & ranch coverage options that can help you protect yourself from loss when the worst happens. Prepare early— and have a safe and happy New Year!