Farm Store | articles | Fall and Winter Cattle Care

Fall and Winter Cattle Care

Cows in the winterFall and winter are traditionally the toughest seasons for animals that spend the majority of their time outside. For farmers there are choices to be made as to just how many and which beef or dairy cattle that they want to carry through the winter. For the small or hobby farmer this choice may not be as commercially driven as a larger operation. Small farm cattle may be special breeds and sometimes even old fashioned sentiment may be a factor. However, there are challenges to be met both practical and financial if your cattle are going to emerge healthy and happy into spring pastures.


At the very basic level we all have to be able to get out the bad weather or we’re going to be sick. Cattle are no exception. They will not want to be inside all of the time. However, they need a shelter option when the weather gets nasty. Dairy cattle in particular will be susceptible to getting frozen teats and the resultant loss in milk production will go straight to your bottom line. On a practical note, protection from the elements will mean that your cattle will be happier and burn fewer calories, which means that you may not have to feed as much. Depending on your climate, adequate shelter can take a variety of forms such as, solid or semisolid fences, tree belts and thickets, three sided sheds, and pole sheds and barns. In the case of structures, you will need to provide bedding, make sure that it is kept as dry and clean as possible. Soiled bedding is a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, which could cause pneumonia. Also make sure that your structures are ventilated but not drafty and give your cattle adequate space.


The provision of adequate water is absolutely fundamental. Eating snow can meet some of your cattle's needs but with a cow's requirement being 14 gallons a day (much more for lactating dairy cattle) and upwards that is a lot of snow. Aside from that, the energy needed to melt snow is six times that of drinking fresh water and will also lead to a lower body temperature; more calories expended on melting snow will likely mean that you will be feeding more. If your cattle take on the right amount of water this will enhance their health and decrease the risk of colic or impaction. The optimum water temperature is 37° F and above. Depending on the severity of your winters you may have to install a heated livestock waterer or frequently provide unfrozen water.


When the weather turns colder, cattle need more nutrients to maintain their health. If your cattle are cold and/or wet, then normal fall and winter feed intakes will need to be increased again. Researchers say that the lowest critical environmental temperature (LCT) for dry livestock is 37° F and that the energy (feed) requirements for wet livestock increases by two percent for every 1° F reduction in the temperature. Feed your cattle hay and a supplement formulated to provide a balance of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Properly formulated supplements will provide more energy than forages. In the case of small farms you should have the time to feed smaller amounts and often, thus reducing waste and you can also monitor an individual animal';s intake. Consider using feeders for supplements and hay. Also, using square bales, if they are available, will allow you to reduce hay wastage. Finally, do not forget the mineral needs of your cattle and put out properly designed mineral for the production cycle of the cattle.

Mud and Manure

Well before the freeze, if you have one, fall and early winter rains will make mud. Mixed in with cattle manure the resultant mixture can make your animals, in the best case chilled, and therefore uncomfortable, and in the worst case, sick. Hoof rot, and particularly in dairy cattle, thrush, are both possibilities. Your cattle will want to congregate and it is in those areas where you will need to reduce the build up of mud. You can consider the use of materials such as, gravel, sand, tile, and wood chips; remember to remove soiled material and replace it with fresh as, and when, necessary.

Fall and Winter Husbandry

The cooler months are a good time to get a handle on internal and external parasites. Talk to your vet about deworming and vaccinations; you might also want to consider nutrient supplements for pregnant cows. Exercise for your cattle is important to their muscular and skeletal health. You can get your cattle to move around more by varying the feeding locations and this will also reduce the amount of hoof trimming to do in the colder months; regular hoof trimming will still be necessary however.

Shop Cattle Equipment

Related Products

Grid View
List View
  • Southern States Traditions Beef Blend 50 lb

    SKU 57090111
    Southern States Traditions Beef Blend is a pelleted feed for beef cattle weighing over 500 pounds. This feed is formulated with a variety of ingredients making it a very economical feed. 13% crude protein and fortified with vitamins and minerals makes this a great feed to supplement on pasture during periods of low nutrition or limited supply of hay or pasture. Pelleting reduces sorting and sifting of ingredients for greater uniform intake and less waste. Feed Additive options available.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Southern States Traditions Hi-Mag Beef Mineral 50 lb

    SKU 57922001
    Southern States Traditions Hi-Mag Beef Mineral is a free-choice mineral for beef cattle on pasture. Formulated with supplemental levels of Vitamins A, D, E, selenium as well as 14% magnesium. This supplement is designed to meet the daily nutrition requirements for health and reproduction. It is best to provide Southern States Traditions Hi-Mag Beef Mineral to your cattle 2 to 4 weeks before grazing tetany prone pastures.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Southern States 16% PowerStroke w/(BVT) Medicated 50 lb

    SKU 57226211
    Southern States 16% PowerStroke with (BVT) Medicated gives growing beef cattle (350 lbs. and above) all they need for excellent and efficient daily growth with a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals and the additive Bovatec, for increased rate of weight gain. Introduce 16% PowerStroke with (BVT) Medicated slowly into a hay, pasture or silage diet, based on the feeding rate per head, per day. This pelleted creep feed can also augment the diets of growing beef or dairy replacement heifers, and its 16% crude protein supports special needs of your cattle. Your growing herd will get great support from Southern States PowerStroke feeds.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Southern States Traditions 24% Beef Tub 200 lb

    SKU 51350139
    Southern States Traditions 24% Beef Tub is formulated for beef cattle fed on a free-choice basis while grazing pastures with adequate forage, receiving silage, hay or green-chop. This block is fortified with major and trace minerals and vitamins and contains 24% protein to aid in the prevention of deficiencies. The weatherproof tub protects the supplement from weather and no additional feeder or protection is needed. Southern States Traditions 24% Beef Tub is best used in the Fall, Winter and Spring.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Southern States Cattleman's Beef Mineral 50 lb

    SKU 57926001
    Southern States Cattleman's Beef Mineral is a base mineral that meets NRC requirements for grazing cattle. Excellent choice for mixing with grains to balance silage/grain feeding programs or fed as a free choice mineral.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Monoject Vet Needle Poly Hub 18 Gauge x 1”

    SKU 11495180
    The Monoject Vet Needle is a sterile, single use needle with a special bevel grind designed for use in animals. Comes with a color-coded needle sheath and is autoclavable in rigid pack.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Southern States Genetic Expression 14% Jump Start (BVT) Medicated 50 lb

    SKU 57376011
    Southern States Genetic Expression 14% Jump Start (BVT) Medicated is a feed for growing beef cattle including slaughter, stocker and feeder cattle and replacement heifers; formulated with Lasalocid (BVT) for increased rate of weight gain. Southern States Genetic Expression 14% Jump Start (BVT) Medicated is your best bet. 14% crude protein and full-spectrum vitamins and minerals help to ensure all your pasture-fed livestock have the nutrients they need to maintain a steady growth rate. Available in non-medicated and other Feed Additive options.
    to see pricing & availability
  • 12 cc Syringe With 18 Gauge x 1 in Needle

    SKU 11477063
    This 12 cc Syringe features a tri-seal 3 ring self-sealing plunger, tapered plunger shaft and exclusive no-slip thumb rest. Large finger wings provide better control. Other features include clear, durable plastic barrel, positive plunger stop, tri-beveled needle tip and twist luer lock.
    to see pricing & availability

Find Your Nearest Southern States Location

Sales & Offers