Extended Cold Spells Pose Risks to Livestock

Ensure horses and livestock have adequate shelter, water, dry bedding, and feed to make it through the cold spell.

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Extended Cold Spells Pose Risks to Livestock
Extreme cold can have other detrimental impacts on livestock. | Photo: iStock
Kentuckians already are deep in the throes of winter with a long stretch of below-freezing temperatures and bitter wind chills. Lingering periods of extreme cold put livestock at risk.

“Normal temperatures this time of year are supposed to be in the low-to-mid 40s, with lows dipping into the 20s,” said Matthew Dixon, meteorologist for the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Statewide temperatures from Dec. 27 through Jan. 2 averaged 18 degrees below normal, with sub-zero temperatures widespread on the morning of Jan. 2. The last time Kentucky had widespread sub-zero temperatures was in late winter of 2015.”

As arctic air builds, livestock become vulnerable to deteriorating outside conditions. Dixon said that over the next week and possibly into early February, the livestock cold stress index will hover in the danger and emergency categories for much of Kentucky.

“We want to remind livestock producers to take proper precautions to keep their animals safe during periods of cold stress,” said UK livestock specialist Jeff Lehmkuhler. “Don’t forget to keep yourself warm while caring for your animals avoid getting frostbite, especially when working on waterers to keep the water flowing

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