Cold Weather Challenges Ranchers And Dairies

By Anna King

The region’s cold snap has many dairy operators and ranchers taking extra care with their livestock. When it’s cold, cattle and other types of livestock tend to eat more to stay warm. 

Len McIrvin checks on his Herford cattle in the cold weather in southcentral Washington outside of Patterson. Photo by Anna King.Despite the low temperatures intensified by a slight wind, Len McIrvin’s Herford cattle don't hesitate to low at his passing pickup. They’re munching on what’s left in a harvested cornfield a few miles from the Columbia River. McIrvin says as long as the cattle have enough to eat, and he clears the water troughs of ice a few times a day, they’ll be fine. It’s the cattle on his mountainous ranch near the Canadian border, he’s more worried about.

Len McIrvin: “We’ve got a lot of cattle still up at the north ranch that are in two feet of snow. It’s hard for them to find feed. It’s the cattle that we haven’t been able to find yet that we will get. The stragglers from the herds.”

McIrvin says the most vulnerable animals are those that might be ill, young calves or those animals hassled by wolves in deep snow.

Photo: Len McIrvin checks on his Herford cattle in the cold weather in southcentral Washington outside of Patterson. Photo by Anna King.

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