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Caring for livestock in a tough winter

Dirck Steimel

Winters like the current one are good reminders of the value of livestock farmers’ commitment to animal care.

While most of us deal with the frigid temperatures, ice and snow just a few minutes a day when we dash to and from our vehicles, livestock farmers are out in the brutal elements for several hours each day caring for their animals. Farmers make sure that their cattle and other animals raised outside get extra care in these conditions.

That was certainly the case for Darren Stein when Iowa Farm Bureau photographer Gary Fandel caught up with him last week on his farm near Vinton. With the temperature dipping well below zero, the Benton County Farm Bureau member spent part of the morning breaking up ice to make sure his cattle could get enough water to drink. Not a fun job when the ice is several inches thick, but a necessary one.

Many Iowa livestock farmers also used social media last week to discuss strategies to provide the best care for livestock in the cold weather. 

Floyd County members Laura and Aaron Cunningham posted photos of a newborn calf they nicknamed Chilly Willy. They wrapped the calf in a wool blanket and kept a close eye on momma and her offspring with a video monitor in their hoop building. Video monitoring, the farmers said, allows them to check on the pair without disturbing the bonding process.

The cold weather will eventually lose its grip and before long we’ll be enjoying the spring. But one thing won’t change: Livestock farmers care for their animals season after season. 


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