The contingency plan should ensure cows are in a drier, sheltered area that is easily managed by the team, and includes enough feed or access to feed.
Consider the risk to the environment when choosing an area.
Create this plan with your team prior to winter to ensure that everyone knows when and how the contingency plan will be implemented.
When creating your plan:
- consider the welfare of your cows, including shelter, the lying surface, and availability of appropriate feed.
- consider the environment, including potential soil damage, runoff to surface and ground water, and any flood risk.
- ask yourself, will our adverse weather plan be easily and quickly implementable? And, will we be able to manage with power supply to electric fences?
Contingency plan options include:
- shifting the cows to a drier, low risk paddock.
- saving crop in a drier, low risk part of the paddock.
- standing cows off on a laneway or concrete yard. However, if standing off for more than a few hours, hard surfaces are no better than wet muddy paddocks for standing or lying.
- standing cows off in a tree block.
- Increase area allocated to herd by giving them another break. This may not be possible on fodder beet. Where possible, continue to feed crop in the diet throughout the adverse weather event. If the herd is off crop for longer than 24 hours you will need to consider re-transitioning them onto the crop, particularly with fodder beet.
It's important you and your team know when to implement your contingency plan. Assessing the main three factors - paddock, animals and weather will help you make an informed decision.
“When I plan how much feed I need for winter, I add an extra 10 percent to cover extreme weather events.”
If a cow is clean and dry and there is little wind or rain, cold stress is rare until ambient temperatures fall below -10°C. The factors that increase the risk of cold stress are:
- combination of cold temperatures, rain and wind
- wet muddy ground conditions
- low body condition score
- low feeding levels
- sickness In poor weather, allow for decreased feed utilisation and increased energy or feed demand.
Depending on the BCS of the herd, and the weather situation, wet and windy conditions require an additional 0.5 – 3 kg DM/cow/day of intake.
Cows at BCS 4
|0-3 degrees C||4-7 degrees C||8-10 degrees C|
|1kg DM||0kg DM||0kg DM|
|2kg DM||1kg DM||0kg DM|
|3kg DM||2kg DM||1kg DM|