Windbreaks shelter livestock

Established tree windbreaks sheltering beef and dairy cattle operations can lower feed costs, prevent weight loss, and help maintain milk production during the winter months.

Bob Atchison of the Kansas Forest Service said additional feed is needed to maintain body temperatures, but a windbreak can help remedy the problem.

“A 25-mile-an-hour wind at zero degrees Fahrenheit creates a wind chill of 44 degrees below zero,” he said. “By contrast, a properly designed windbreak will reduce the same wind chill to 15 degrees below zero.”

Atchison cited Canadian research that found that cattle on winter range, in unprotected sites, required a 50 percent increase in feed for normal activities.

“A properly designed windbreak will reduce these needs by half,” he said.

Windbreaks enable cattle to gain and maintain weight better as well. Montana studies indicated that during mild winters, beef cattle sheltered by windbreaks gained an average of 34 or 35 pounds more than cattle in an open feedlot. During severe winters, cattle in feedlots protected from the wind maintained 10.6 more pounds than cattle in unprotected lots.

The Kansas Forest Service is accepting tree orders from producers interested in establishing livestock windbreaks. Foresters also can assist in planning a tree planting.

For more information, call (785) 532-3300 or visit www.KansasForests.org.

 

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