Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
Snow Days
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By Katie Stockstill-Sawyer
Feb. 21, 2013 5:16 p.m.

Owning animals – specifically cattle – completely changes the meaning of a snow day. For most, snow is a welcomed sight as it means a day at home – away from the office or classroom – in their sweats enjoying daytime television and a warm fire.
But for cattle owners, snow days are some of the longest and hardest workdays they encounter each year. Cattle were created to withstand cold, snow and wind but that doesn’t mean they particularly enjoy the winter weather – especially after a streak of 50-degree temperatures. We have both heifers (first-time mothers) and cows (experienced mothers) calving right now. In fact we had about 20 calves born yesterday, five born overnight and another three this morning. More are expected throughout the day. This is peak calving season for our herd and while we never rule out the possibility of snow, snowfall like this doesn’t come along every year.
During storms like this, it’s important that we are out, among our cattle, checking to ensure mothers are doing fine, baby calves are staying warm and eating and expectant mothers get to shelter when possible. When we find a calf that looks like it just can’t get warm on it’s own, we will bring it inside and allow it to dry off and warm up before returning it to its mother.
Diet and proper nutrition are also very important for cattle in the winter. Like humans, cattle with a normal level of body fat are better able to withstand the cold and nursing mothers need all of the nutrition and calories they can get. Even on days like this, we make sure our cattle have all of the feed they need or want. But we are careful to not overfeed them so that all of their energy isn’t spent on digestion.
Derek was up most of last night checking on the cows and caring for a few calves. He and his father will spend the remainder of today and tonight making additional rounds, checking the animals as many times as possible. New calves could come at any time and we strive to be there to ensure all is going well. It’s not an easy job and the cattle don’t always express their appreciation the way a person would but it’s what we do, even on snow days.

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