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Keeping Cattle Safe in the Bitter Cold

Created: 12/11/2013 6:34 PM KSTP.com
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- With a temperature right around zero degrees Wednesday, and a wind chill even colder, it wasn't exactly easy to be outside, and that includes for farm animals.

"Yesterday morning, when we had the really strong winds there for awhile, they all went inside and I don't blame them, I wanted to be inside too," said Tim Mack. He has owned and operated Bridgeview Farms in Zumbrota for 17 years. He says the winter months come with their own challenges when it comes to raising cattle.

"Our barn system uses a bedding pack, or deep bedding system. So we always bed with corn stalks or straw when it gets cold like this," said Mack.

While cattle can handle the cold temperatures, its not quite the same for hog farmers. According to animalagriculture.org, extreme wind chills can actually kill hogs while they are being transported.

"The cattle will take the cold better than the hogs. But even so, the really cold weather stresses them and animals are like people. Stress affects them. So it can even affect the quality and the tenderness of the meat," said Mack.

So when it comes time for Tim's cattle to be sent off for processing, it's most likely going to be done on a day that's at least a little bit warmer.

"We try to miss the coldest days. We took some over to the stock yards here on Sunday because it was a little bit warmer days. I wouldn't want to be sorting today because its hard on them, and also hard on me," said Mack.

Tim says when he first designed his farm, he did it with winter in mind. His barn is L-shaped and opens to the southeast, to break the winds from the northwest. Also, on really cold days, the feeding is actually done in the barn instead of the pasture.