We’re in for a doozy of a winter. Funny we don’t hear a peep from the global warming gurus but while heavy snow, wind and wet conditions make life miserable for all of us it’s especially trying on ranchers and livestock. I’m Susan Allen and when Open Range returns some winter tips for cattle. Dr. Dennis Hermesch a veterinarian from Novartis Animal Health provided some tips for wintering cattle recently online at Drovers Cattle Network that I thought I’d pass on. Cattle like horses can handle temperatures right around freezing pretty well but when the thermometer plunges both species require more energy to maintain their body condition and they receive through high quality feed. It’s imperative cattle consume enough protein often lacking from winter feed and that’s why Hermesch recommends that producers talk to either their veterinarian or nutritionist to determine what protein supplements are needed and exact feed intake levels to handle extremely cold weather. Cattle stressed by cold have increased metabolic rates and to quote Hermesch “The effect of this is that more feed or fat reserves are used for heat production and less is available for gain, so weekly body condition scoring can help monitor this loss.” Often overlooked but critical for wintering cattle is that they have easy access to water, if cattle don’t maintain hydration levels, digestion of nutrients slows and energy production drops considerably sometimes dangerously.