© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

How will livestock fare in the upcoming ‘arctic blast’?

Cattle in the snow.
Phil Roeder
Cattle in the snow.

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.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
Related Content