Livestock Grazing during winter

(Photo by Thomas Uhlemann/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Numerous producers like to winter livestock on crop residues and pasture, however, snow and ice can make it tough for animals to paw through for a bite.

Numerous producers like to winter livestock on crop residues and pasture, however, snow and ice can make it tough for animals to paw through for a bite. Knowing how to deal with wintery conditions is basic for success.


Ben Beckman is an extension educator at the University of Nebraska. He says exactly how much difficulty they have relied on what the animals are grazing, and how the precipitation falls.


“From the grazing standpoint, you know if we have maybe some stockpiled pasture, like a windrow grazing situation where we’ve got some fluffy light hay where there’s a lot of air underneath that animals can kind of punch through, even if we have a substantial layer of snow or ice on top and get down into it, we can deal with quite a bit actually,” says Beckman.

“That’s a lot different than if we’re grazing corn residue. Even a quarter-inch of ice or a little bit of snow really makes grazing in those situations difficult.”


He says in general, about six inches of snow or a quarter-inch of ice is where you’ll start to notice animals working a lot harder for a bite


“That’s going to be probably a little bit different for smaller ruminants just because they don’t have the weight and the oomph to break through as much. But that’s a really rough general guideline that I have,” he says.

“Once we go beyond that point, chances are that they might still be going out and grazing and getting some benefit, but they’re having to work a lot harder for it and so the energy that they’re expending at that point starts to make it a little bit more questionable and we’re probably going to have to be doing some supplementation.”


Beckman says to keep an eye on animal body condition and supplement with feed that will provide energy and protein.read more

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