As I imagine most did, I snuck away from my office for a few days to spend time with friends and family during the holidays. I use the term “friends and family” a little loosely here, for it goes without saying that the cattle are one and the same.
It was risky, stealing Abby-dog’s seat riding shotgun with my Farmer for one of these chilly mornings, but I did. Bundled from head to toe, we took on the Kansas cold before the sun was even up. Over the last few years, I’ve found a dear place in my heart for the chunky winter farm-gear that would’ve been considered foreign to me not too long ago 🙂
Cows, on the other hand, are able to withstand great temperature drops and spikes. Still, we like to make sure they are well-cared for and at ease all winter long.
Stroberg cattle are spread out on different fields and pastures close to the farm. Sorted appropriately based on age, weight, gender, etc. and fed accordingly. They graze on crop residue but will need a little something extra when the temperature begins to drop. Same goes with me I think, needing a little something extra when the temperature drops 😉
Although I’ve been told cattle can consume most anything, we actually don’t feed them cookies (sent those with Santa & Co. earlier last week). That would be an example of low-quality forage. These cattle need high-quality forage to keep up with the extra energy needed to maintain body temperature in this sub-zero weather (and, of course, to optimize gut health).
The supplemental hay and alfalfa, mineral and protein is delivered in the morning to give the girls and boys just enough of an energy boost to get them up and grazing by day, rather than retreating behind a wind block (always there for protection though).
Even in the frigid cold, we all need to drink. Cattle tanks are refilled after the ice is broken to keep them well hydrated. There may have been a part of me that was thankful there was only one mallet in the truck, or I’d have had to be a bit more helpful!
How much extra energy do they need then, eh?
Research suggests energy needs increase by almost 30%. (There’s a more specific calculation to it, but either way) that’s pounds upon pounds of extra food, and also, more hours spent feeding.
So, how did I spend some of the final hours of my first year married?
Outside battling Mother Nature to keep our cattle warm and comfortable this winter.
2018 will come with many more hours spent in the flatbed rolling out bales, but I look forward to that time. I’ve grown to love our truck and tractor dates, year-round 🙂 Other times, I will continue to enjoy whipping up a family meal. Proud to have a farm-wife life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
As it goes, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” –Alan Wolfelt.
Reference: Mullinex, K., Ph.D. (2015, January). Conserving Energy for a Cold Winter– Cattle and Calories. Alabama Cattleman.