Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Winter increases farm work loads


November 25, 2014


QCS Columnist

Winter weather for me means sweaters and a lot of coffee, but for my father and my uncle’s cattle ranch it means more work.

The last snow was less than an inch, which did not worry my father as our horses and cattle could still reach the grass below the snow.

However, the more snow our ranch gets, the harder it is for our cattle to get food.

Albuquerque Meteorologist Jason Frazier says the winter weather outlook is that New Mexico could see above-normal precipitation.

Ranchers and farmers in Quay, Curry and Roosevelt counties may see a hard winter.

I remember one winter on my family’s ranch when it snowed a lot and our cattle were struggling.

My family had to go and feed them every day, and they were skinny after a hard summer before.

This summer has seen more precipitation and our cattle are looking better than they have. The winter is still a hard time for all livestock.

The lambs I raised for junior livestock shows had a hard time in winter as we had a show in January. Our lambs had several blankets on them and we had to feed them more food than usual to keep the right amount of fat on them.

Roosevelt County Agriculture Agent Patrick Kircher shared some tips on how to keep livestock healthy during the winter.

“The biggest thing that people need to do is be prepared before the storms or cold weather comes,” Kircher said.

Kircher said with the smaller livestock, they should have a shelter to get out of the cold. One tip Kircher said many people do not think about is water.

I know when it was cold, I would have to go to my sheep’s pen and break the ice every few hours. When the water freezes for the cattle, my dad and my uncle will haul water to them no matter the weather.

For cattle, Kircher said they should be given something to help them digest food and keep them warm. Hay is a great option for cattle, but Kircher warns the hay should be forage tested before fed to the cattle.

Some hay can be high in nitrate and some cattle can get nitrate poisoning from the hay as they will eat a lot during the cold.

The cold affects everyone, even people with small animals, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather and keep your animals warm.

Staff writer Lillian Bowe doesn’t want a white winter, just a wet winter. Contact her at [email protected] or 575-461-1952.


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