Cattle producers battle extreme cold to care for calves


by Steve White, Nebraska.TV

February 7th 2019


Grand Island, NE — An arctic blast isn't fit for man or beast, but here in the Beef State, many ranchers bring new life into the world even on the coldest of nights.


On her family’s wind-swept farm, Janel Laub gets her pink muck boots on, and gets to work.


“It's a midnight check, a 3 check, a 6 o'clock check,” she said of her overnight routine.


With mama cows to care for, she doesn't bother setting an alarm.


“You know I'm a mom, so I still get up,” she said with a laugh.


With winds gusting 40 miles an hour, it was time to bring one pair inside.


“He was born last night, and it was a nice strong north wind so we took him into the building,” she said of a new calf born during the cold spell.


Experts say forecasts help ranchers plan, so they can be diligent to check calves.


“To make sure they're not getting hypothermia or too cold because that calf is born wet of course and it can get cold, get a cold temperature awfully quickly,” said Extension Educator Troy Walz of Custer County.


Walz said cattle reach a comfort level when it's around 25 to 30 degrees and dry – any less than that, they burn more energy staying warm.


The Laub’s cattle quickly found their feed, as Janel's father-in-law brought in bales of hay, while her husband Brian unwrapped them.


On the most bone-chilling nights, some ranchers will place babies in the family bathtub...


more, including photos, video report [2:39 min.]