How will livestock fare in the upcoming ‘arctic blast’?
Until Friday, Dec. 23, much of Wyoming will not get above zero degrees Fahrenheit. In the central and eastern side of the state, wind chill could be as low as negative 60 degrees, and although people can die in these temperatures in as little as one hour, livestock are much tougher.
“Animals are smart, they'll figure out where to go to get out of the wind,” said Brett Moline, a rancher and the director of public and governmental affairs for the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. “I won't say it's going to be good, but ranchers will do everything they can to make it as less bad as possible.”
Moline said that means moving livestock into pastures with shelter or at least wind blocks, this could include even willows or pine trees. Another thing that keeps livestock warm is full bellies, which Moline said likey means feeding double the usual amount.
Jim Magagna, the executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said ranchers that do not normally feed until the new year, will have to start feeding early.
“It's going to take away from the bottom line for the rancher, and that's particularly onerous this year when hay prices were so high,” Magagna said. “If this makes them have to go out and buy hay later in the year, that's going to be a huge expense.”
Magagna said he thinks the last time there was a cold snap like this it was in the 80s.
However, Moline added that the cold snap is short enough that expenses should not be too high. Temperatures will warm back up well above zero degrees across the state by the weekend.