Here are a few tips to help cattle through this stretch, especially for those that have started the calving season.
Windbreak: This may be the biggest factor to help cattle get through the extreme wind chill we will see on Friday. Cattle will often seek out relief from wind more so than food or water. This can be stands of trees, stacks of round bales, or man-made structures. Placing this close to location of feeding will help ensure they find the windbreak, as well as consume the proper amount of calories.
Bedding: Keeping cattle dry is second most important factor for cattle. After the large amount of rain many have received since Thanksgiving, most are dealing with mud. Move cattle to a dry pasture for the next several days.
Nutrition: Cattle need more calories to maintain their body heat in extreme cold; up to 30% more. Starting at least 1-2 days prior to the expected weather, plan on offering higher quality hay or feeding 4-6 pounds of supplement. If cattle are not already receiving corn, do not start feeding straight corn. I would recommend that the supplement be greater than 70% TDN and 15% CP. A few simple options:
- Whole cottonseed
- Dried distillers grains
- Corn gluten feed
- 50:50 of corn gluten feed and soybean hulls
- 33:33:33 of corn gluten feed, corn, and soybean hulls
- Commercial feed
Water: Most waterers will freeze in this weather. In parts of north Georgia, it will remain below freezing for more than 48 hours. Be sure to check water sources to be sure cattle have access.
The upcoming freeze events will be one of the biggest challenges faced so far by Georgia and northern Florida citrus growers. In past years we have experienced one or two nights of temperatures in the lower 20’s or possibly upper teens in some areas. For the most part citrus trees have survived. One thing different about this event will the number or hours below freezing with highs on Saturday and Sunday in the mid 30’s. Our trees have not experienced that duration below freezing and they have not experience 4 nights in a row down to 20 degrees. One good thing is that trees should be more acclimated to cold temperatures since they have we have had cold temperatures leading up until now. There are many factors I have listed below that influence cold-hardiness.
- Type of citrus tree
- Freezing temperature reached
- Duration of the minimal temperature
- How well the plant became hardened or conditioned before freezing temperatures occurred (the tissue freezing point of a hardened citrus plant may be five to six degrees lower than an unhardened plant)
- Wet or Dry Plant (killing temperature is two to four degrees lower for a dry citrus tree so dry trees can withstand lower temperature)
- Wet soil holds more heat so wetting the ground before the freezing event is recommended
- Age of the plant (a young plant cannot withstand as much cold as a more mature tree).
- Rootstock selection. Some rootstocks like trifoliate and trifoliate hybrids go dormant quicker than non trifoliates
- Trees that still have fruit on them are more susceptible to freezes
- Amount of N in tree (don’t fertilize with too much N especially after August)
- Poorly managed and stressed trees due to insects, disease, or nutrient deficiencies are more vulnerable to freezes
- Planting location. High ground on a south facing slope is best
- Trees without windbreaks are more likely to experience freeze damage