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home articles Herd Health |

Freeze aftereffects on cattle

published: March 5th 2021
by: Dr. Joe C. Paschal
source: ICA Of Texas

A friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Ted McCol-lum, who was an Extension Beef Cattle Specialist in Amarillo for many years but is now retired to ranching in New Mexico, came up with many of these after a blizzard hit the Texas Panhandle in late 2015. He reminds us that even after the weather warmed up that we should continue to watch our livestock for the aftereffects, especially of this weeklong freeze.
    The weeklong freezing temperatures and windchill can have especially long-lasting impact on livestock. Tails and ears and even cows’ teats and udders and bulls’ sheaths and scrotums could be frostbitten causing some partial loss (tails, ears and teats) or loss of function (testes) in the next few days or weeks. How-ever, Dr. McCollum said that these are not long-term threats to the animal’s well-being.
    Cows with frostbitten udders or frozen teats may be sensitive, reducing milk production and consumption by their calves for a few days. Also, there might be some mastitis and partial loss of udder function. Cows calving this spring could also be affected but it would not be noticeable until they calve and begin lactating , so they should be evaluated then, too.
    Prepuces and scrotums of bulls exposed to freezing temperatures and wind chills may have been damaged, especially bulls with slightly larger sheaths and prepuces. Bulls being used now or considered for use should have a breeding soundness examination (BSE) performed on them. Semen production is a long-term process and fertility could be impacted for one or two months.
    Bulls breeding fall calving herds should have a BSE performed as soon as possible to check for injury and semen quality to ensure a high percent calf crop. Cows in fall calving herds that are not bred could have delayed estrus and pregnancy resulting in late calves. Estrus activity should return to normal in a few weeks,  if there are no other injuries.
    Cattle and other livestock that survived the extremely frigid temperatures for days are physically very stressed, even those that were adequately supplemented and sheltered. Producers should monitor their herd’s body condition scores and possibly in-crease supplemental feeding for the remainder of breeding season (for fall calving cows) or calving (for spring calving cows). Finally, observe your livestock closely for other signs of stress. Even though they survived the weather, something may just not be quite right.

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