Cold Temperatures Hurt Nebraska Calving

March 12, 2019, 12:29 p.m. ·

A harsh winter is making it difficult on cattle and ranchers during calving season. (File photo)

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Cold temperatures have hit Nebraska ranchers across the state especially hard this calving season.

In February, the average temperature was 18.6 degrees. In most years, the February average sits just below 30 degrees. The decrease in temperatures has made it rough not only for the baby calves, but also the ranchers watching after the calves.

Bruce Treffer, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator in Dawson County, said he would imagine most ranchers have seen an increase in mortality of calves in February and March.

“Somebody told me last night, we have a lot of calves that aren’t going to have their full ear left," Treffer said. "Because that’s an extremity that often gets frozen and with those really cold temperatures they will have a lot fewer full ears on them.”

Treffer said it’s extremely important for the calves to get up and moving after they are born. Because of this, ranchers will sometimes spend cold nights watching and checking up on the calves every two hours to ensure their safety.

“And then of course," he said. "It just makes things really hard on the people that are doing the checking, so trying to keep (the calves) alive has been a real challenge.”

Bedding and windbreaks can play vital roles in keeping the young calves alive. Treffer said even though the temperature may start to rise as spring arrives, it will be crucial for ranchers to keep the calves’ bedding dry.