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Minimizing cold stress

Winter weather is tough on everyone. Cold temperatures, wind and snow pack add up to a rough winter for your cow herd too. Producers can give their cows an advantage when cold weather comes around with the right supplement for winter pastures.

When producers think about weather related stress on their cattle, heat stress comes to mind first. However, when we have weather events that take cattle well below their comfort zone, we have a cold stress event. Hair coat as well as temperature determine cold stress events. The table below lists the lower end of the comfort zones for cattle with different hair coat lengths.


Windbreaks are the first defense against cold stress. When the air temperature is dropping and the wind is picking up, there’s nothing better than being able to get out of the wind. Providing a wind break for your cattle can help minimize heat loss from wind. The table below illustrates how much the wind affects how cold it feels.


The windbreak doesn’t need to be fancy. In a range grazing setting, it might be as simple as a low spot with a small grove of trees. Whereas in a small scale operation it could be a 3-sided shed. So long as the windbreak is angled to block the prevailing wind, it will work.

Supplementing is another way to help your cows through a cold stress event. However, what you supplement with is key. In a situation where temperatures will be low, supplementing to maximize heat generated by rumen fermentation is like putting out a space heater.

Grain based supplements will give a burst of heat and energy, however it is short lived. Not to mention that grain supplementing tends to be hand fed and eaten quickly. Providing additional forage (hay or corn stover) supplement is a better choice for a cold stress event. The structural components of forages are more slowly fermented in the rumen and produce more heat. This provides a win-win for your cows, a full and warm belly.

Regardless of the weather, give your cows on winter pasture a boost with a CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements. Cattle on dormant native range or lush rye grass pastures can both benefit from the right supplement. Don’t know which supplement is best for your cows? Contact your local CRYSTALYX® dealer or visit our website www.crystalyx.com to find the right barrel for your cattle.