Officials Urge Cattle Ranchers to Prepare for Cold Snap

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Marianna- In the Florida Panhandle, cattle simply aren't as equipped to endure freezing temperatures as well as cattle in others parts of the country, particularly not this year.

"The big issue is, we had nearly 80 degree temperatures last week. We've had some cold to build [cattle's] winter coat, but they don't have a full winter coat. We didn't gradually go to this [cold weather]. We had pretty warm temperatures all through Christmas to now, the bottom's falling out," Jackson County Agriculture Agent, Doug Mayo explained.

The low in Jackson County Monday night was expected to hit 17 degrees.

"The old and the young are at greatest risk, just like with people," Mayo said. "We don't have barns we can keep them all in- we don't have giant dog houses for cows. And we know some will calf in this weather- the stress will induce labor."

There was only so much ranchers were able do, but Mayo said every effort helped.

"We know livestock use 30-50 % more energy just to maintain their body heat when its extreme temperature change, so we can feed them extra hay and some kind of high energy feed," he explained.

Also adding to make sure their water supply was not frozen and they had some kind of shelter from the wind.

"Move cattle to an area where there's a wind break," Mayo said. "To an area with some trees or maybe a low spot where they can get out of the wind. You can make a temporary wind break, move some equipment or hay bails- some way to protect against the northwest wind."

Mayo also said ranchers with old hay could also put that down as a layer for mothers with calves to lay in.

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