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No snow days for state’s ranchers

<p>In a snowy field: Cattle stand in a snowy field in Boone County. The harsh winter weather is presenting some challenges for the state’s ranchers and they can’t take a snow day, either.</p>

In a snowy field: Cattle stand in a snowy field in Boone County. The harsh winter weather is presenting some challenges for the state’s ranchers and they can’t take a snow day, either.

No matter how harsh winter is, there are no snow days for Arkansas’ cattle producers.

A week that saw record low temperatures and freezing rain that gave even the grass a glassy, slick coating didn’t give ranchers any time off.

“We had to break ice so cattle could get water, something we haven’t done in years,” said Joe Paul Stuart, Little River County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “All of our water hoses froze too!”

When it gets cold, cattle need to consume more hay and calories to stay warm.

“Hay consumption increased around 25 percent for several days, but most producers have plenty of hay this year,” he said.

Tough on calves

In Nevada County, Extension Staff Chair Melissa Beck, said “we have been very wet and I’m noticing our calves dealing with mud in our cool season annual pastures. They’re mucking around in the mud pretty badly.”

Stuart said he’s heard more reports of scours, or calf diarrhea, and respiratory problems in calves.

“Really wet conditions usually cause the scour problem,” he said.

Hard on forages

The bitter cold has been hard on winter forages too.

Stuart said he’s seen “some damage to cool season pastures; ryegrass, wheat and some fescue was bit back. I think most will recover with warmer conditions.”

He also didn’t think that winter wheat in his county would suffer damage.

Beck said that in her county, “the cool temperatures have also slowed the cool season forages’ re-growth rate to the point we are supplementing with hay and feed more than we’ve had to in the past several years.”

However, in rice, cotton and soybean country “other than heating bills I think all is well,” said Ray Benson, Mississippi County extension staff chair.

For more information on cattle production, contact your county extension office, or visit www.uaex.edu. Please note that many links to extension publications and other information will be changing this spring as the extension service renovates its site.

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