Among those having to work through the cold snap are Southern Alberta’s ranchers.
Though cattle are fairly resilient to the cold, there are a few steps ranchers take to prepare their animals for extreme conditions.
Highwood Valley Ranch co-owner Wade Nelson says aside from shelter and bedding, extra feed is always the top priority in weather like this.
“The number one thing you can do is feed them more. Think of a cow’s belly like a big engine, you’ve just got to keep that fire lit. It’s that much colder out, they’re going to burn more energy. We’ll feed them probably 10 pounds more, at least, than we normally would.”
Luckily, they haven’t burned through much feed in the last few months with the winter being as mild as it has been so far.
Water is typically accounted for already.
“Most livestock water troughs have heating elements inside them, where the cow is drinking, and then we run heat tape down into the ground, so it stays from freezing up… Everyone’s going to have a water trough go, I had one last night. You cover it with a tarp, and you steal your wife’s hairdryer.”
The potential for frostbite isn’t a concern for all ranchers, but those who do have cattle that would be at risk will already have provisions in place.
“There are some ranches that start calving right around now, that could be an issue, but most of them are set up for this weather, they’ll have big barns, their cattle are all in there, and they’ll stay there for a certain amount of time,” says Nelson.
Aside from all of that, the next biggest obstacle is just going about your day amidst the freezing cold, says Nelson.
“It gets tough when it’s like this just to get things done. Everyone says everything takes twice as much time just because it’s so cold. We’re thankful we’ve had such a good winter so far.”