It's an active winter season with wintry blends of heavy snow showers and sleet throughout the Midwest and northeastern U.S. Several practices come to mind when considering herd handling in the cold weather. Keeping your herd in a clean, dry, properly ventilated facility that is draft free tops the list. However, if you need to transport your herd during the winter season, keeping them safe and as stress free as possible should be a priority.
General transportation tips:
Protect livestock from wind chill during cold weather. However, it is important to maintain adequate ventilation. Covering one-half to two-thirds of the openings in the vehicle will aid in reducing the wind-chill.
Keep animals as dry as possible. Also keep in mind that animals weigh more when they are wet.
Protect animals from prolonged exposure to freezing rain and sleet. Precipitation in this form can be deadly to animals. Even a thick winter coat will not protect them against chilling caused by saturation of freezing precipitation.
The transportation vehicle should be cleaned before loading healthy heifers.
The floor of the vehicle should be prepared so as to provide secure footing and absorption of urine and manure. Sawdust, wood shavings, straw or sand are recommended for floor preparation.
Keep transit time to a minimum and avoid any unnecessary stops.
The staff handling the animals should be trained and competent. Transportation of animals is already a stressful time; handlers should not use violence or aggression towards animals.