5 Things Ranchers Do To Protect Their Cattle in Winter


Since I am from the great state of Oklahoma, I have the blessing of experiencing all four seasonal weather patterns: winter, spring, summer, fall and usually every imaginable thing in between. I have an appreciation for all seasons. Each season seems to offer a different type of feeling “in the air”. For example, folks often associate new beginnings with spring and folks often associate winter with fireplaces, holidays and snow. For beef producers however, each season presents many unique challenges.



“Enduring” M-C Photography



Winter in Oklahoma as well as in many states is often unpredictable. One-inch snow predictions have a miraculous way of turning into two feet. It may be 20 degrees outside but feel like -3 with the wind blowing. And it is not uncommon for a 50 degree warm front to be followed by 10 degree temperatures and an ice storm.

Even though cattle are gurus at surviving many different climates, extreme temperature fluctuations can weaken their immune systems and put their health at risk. When it is warm one day and freezing cold the next day, respiratory problems are notorious for setting up camp in the animal’s lungs.

Ranchers do everything they can to facilitate the needs of their cattle in fluctuating temperatures. For example:

  • Ranchers break ice on ponds to make sure they have access to clean, fresh water.

Dad breaking ice in an ice storm last winter.


  • Ranchers can unroll round bales on top of snow and ice to provide a more comfortable surface for the cattle to lay on.
  • Ranchers can set out round hay bales to act as wind breaks before a big storm or when the wind is forecasted to be especially strong.

The mama cows were protected from the strong winds because of the round bale and the trees.


  • If the snow and ice arrive during calving season, ranchers often make more frequent trips into the pasture to check on newborns and make sure they are active and keeping warm.
  • To maintain body temperatures in extreme cold, cattle often require high-quality, balanced rations to meet their needs. Ranchers are very deliberate when it comes to formulating rations (or cow Happy Meals), to make sure the cattle are getting the nutrients they need, in the correct amounts.

“Resilient” M-C Photography


Please join me next Sunday as I review the weather challenges presented by spring. Thank you for reading!

God bless, folks!

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe



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