Winter Bears Down on Hog, Cattle Producers

Harsh winter weather and sub-zero temperatures put an incredible amount of stress on livestock last week, farmers reported during AgriTalk’s Farmer Forum segment on Wednesday.

While hogs raised indoors are less directly affected by cold temperatures, the weather created headaches on the logistics of transporting animals and feed products.

Last week, temperatures fell below zero for several days, said Chad Leman, a pork producer in Eureka, Ill. “But the beauty of raising pigs in barns, it’s not like we were fighting frozen waterers and stuff like that. The biggest challenges we had is the feed mill.”

“Getting the ingredients to flow, and the whole batching system working…everything in a feed mill and with semis is a challenge when it’s that cold,” he adds.

Other problems came as hogs were being transported to processing plants, reported Randy Francois, a hog producer from Winthrop, Iowa. As temperatures fell, Francis said they decided to lower the number of head in each shipment so they could increase bedding and closed as many of the trailer vents as possible to reduce animal stress.

Bringing young pigs into barns also required extra bedding and extra effort to minimize transport time.

Cattle on the other hand are often more adapted to winter weather. Mike Berdo, a hog and cattle producer in Washington, Iowa, says his new cattle barn provides some protection on extremely cold days, but thawing out frozen water tanks each day was a challenge.

These drastic cold temperatures however pulled cattle performance down, Berdo added. ”They were metabolizing just what they needed to keep warm…they weren’t putting on very many pounds last week.”


Here’s more resources to keep livestock comfortable in the midst of winter weather:

Do You Have Enough Hay to Feed Your Cows this Winter?

Feeding Corn and Grazing Stalks Affordable Winter Feeding Options