Cold cows need more feed for fuel

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The arctic air that hit the northern plains last week caused consumers to turn up the thermostat, which increased their energy bills. North Dakota farmers spent more on fuel as well during the cold snap, for livestock.

A cows nutritional demands increase depending on weather conditions. Animals burn more calories to keep warm so during extreme cold, cattle can consume 30 percent to 50 percent more feed to stay warm. The state's ranchers are in good shape for hay this year. Supplies are ample to get through the winter because weather conditions were favorable in 2016 for stockpiling feed.

"We came into the season with healthy reserves. God has blessed most areas of the state with ample moisture throughout the growing season, which has created substantial resources in terms of hay and we are also coming off a couple of years, back to back, where we've had very mild winters and so those resources weren't utilized and still remain strong because they hadn't been needed," said Julie Ellingson, North Dakota Stockmen's Association.
Ellingson says North Dakota cattle thrive in cold weather with proper nutrition. She says a long, dry, and mild fall extended the grazing season in the state, which saved on feed costs for cattle by keeping livestock in pastures until after Thanksgiving.