Farmers working to keep Heartland cattle warm

SALINE COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - With cold temperatures keeping many of us inside, cattle farmers are out in this weather keeping current livestock and new calves safe from the elements as they prepare them for the market.

Todd Slykhuis helps run his family's cattle farm and said cows are naturally well suited to the harsh weather the Heartland has been experiencing this winter , but it still comes with a few challenges.

He said the wind poses the biggest threat to his herd, especially the new baby calves born recently in the middle of winter.

To combat this aspect of the weather, he said they put up hay bales in a row as windbreakers where the animals take shelter.

On top of these, Slykhuis said his farm is equipped with a pavilion able to shelter growing cows from both wind and rain.

The cold weather also makes hydrating cattle more difficult. For this, Slykhuis said his farm has tank heaters to keep a source of water for livestock when ponds and other water sources freeze over.

Slykhuis said cattle also need extra nutrition to make up for lost calories. Special equipment is used to mix hay with other grains like soy and corn to fatten the cows up and give them the energy to stay warm.

As harsh as the weather may be, Slykhuis said the recent conditions have made the farm dryer, which he says is essential for the cows to come out of winter healthy. He said if there isn't mud, ice, or rain, it helps keep the cows warm because they don't get wet and increase the severity of the cold for them.

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