Cold makes calving challenging
The harsh weather has made winter calving difficult in Saskatchewan
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 11:00AM CST
The latest cold spell isn’t just making life a little harder on people. For cows giving birth in the winter calving season, the sub-zero temperatures can put their newborns at risk.
“You’re getting a -25 C with a 35 kilometer to 40 kilometer wind for several days on end sometimes. It’s hard on the calves,” said Clarke Ward, a Saskatoon area farmer who’s seen 25 years of winter calving.
“It’s been challenging just keeping everybody healthy and going,” Ward said.
According to Ward, with all the snow and cold this winter, it’s been one of the toughest calving seasons he’s ever seen.
“Machinery doesn’t always want to run. Today our water systems froze like a popsicle. Cows will start calving around the clock and you’ve got to be on the ball or you’ll have a popsicle calf too,” Ward said.
The conditions of winter calving can lead to more work, but the timing can payoff for producers. Winter calves are ready for sale earlier than those born in the spring. When the weather dips too low, cattle have to be checked on regularly, day and night. Just a few minutes outside alone without their mother can put a calf in danger.
Ward’s had to work hard to combat the cold. “We’ve used probably double the bedding we would normally use, and larger amounts of feed into the cattle. We try to them sheltered as much as we can. We have several barns and a shed, but just comes down to you have to have fairly thrifty, hardy cattle or they just won’t cut it,” Ward said.
Like everyone else, cattle ranchers in the province are hoping the cold spell ends quickly.