Livestock taken care of

—In frigid temperatures, farmers make sure animals are safe
Howard County - There’s been a lot of talk about animals and the below zero temperatures that were to hit the area this week. Some forecasts had 30o below zero regular temperatures with wind chills going to 60o below.
Farmers have been preparing for the cold weather since they heard it was coming. Brandon Reis, a hog farmer who lives near Bonair and is president of Howard County Farm Bureau, elaborated. “We had two weeks’ warning. My dad and grandpa were lucky if they had 24 hours’ notice. We are able to spend a lot of time preparing and getting ready for the cold.” 
Most hogs are now kept in heated barns. Reis joked, “The pigs can’t tell if it’s 30o or negative 30o! They are kept at about 72-75o.” He added the bigger the pigs, the cooler they like it, which could mean the mid 60s. 
A generation ago, the hogs were outside or in buildings. They were kept warm with bedding. “It was very challenging in weather like this,” Reis said.
In addition, many of the modern hog barns are connected to the Internet, allowing farmers to see the temperature and status of the equipment online. 
Brian Haeflinger of Elma agreed hogs are comfortable at 75o. “The bigger the pigs, the heaters barely have to run.”
Haeflinger also has cows. He noted cold weather is not a strange thing when dealing with livestock. “Last year after Christmas, it didn’t get above zero for a week. I’m more concerned when the temperature goes from 40o to zero to 40o. If it jumps like that, then we can get sick cattle.”
Jeff Peckham has beef cows, a horse and a couple of dogs. “We keep the cows bedded, watered and give them extra feed. We let them into the buildings to get them out of the winds. We let the dogs in at night.”
Sheldon Praska of near Schley agreed to keep the cows bedded, well-fed and give them clean water. “There’s not much extra to do, just a little, when it is this cold. You have to keep the waterer thawed out and give them extra feed and bedding.”
Haeflinger said cows also help themselves by grouping together to keep warm. Their dog lies with the cows as well. “She doesn’t like to come in the house.”
Cattle are a hardy breed. “They can handle the cold if you take them out of the wind,” Praska added. His fat cows are inside, and the feeder calves are outside.
As for him staying warm while doing chores, he noted he is usually in the skid loader, but when it snows, he does have to shovel snow out of the bunks by hand.
Dairy farmer Tim Huhe of Cresco said cattle are a different breed. “Cattle have to have fresh air. Most of the buildings are about 10o warmer than outside. We need to keep feeding them. The calves have calf coats to help keep them warm. 
“If I had my choice, I’d rather it be 10o below zero than 40o and rainy and foggy, which makes them sick.”
Just like any business, everything is great until something breaks.
All of the farmers said they couldn’t do their job without their service people coming to their rescue. 
Reis acknowledged, “We rely on our equipment to work . . . the wells, the feed delivery trucks, the electric power, heaters and propane. If it doesn’t, we appreciate the plumbers, power linemen and LP drivers, who get us fixed up.”
One thing is evident when talking with these local livestock farmers — they will do what it takes to keep their animals safe and healthy, even if it means going without sleep and working double time to keep them fed and warm.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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