If facilities are not available, cows use more energy to help cope with the cold.
Cows in good BCS can use body reserves to accomplish this if the cold stress is isolated and not a continuous event.
In longer periods of winter weather, additional energy may need to be supplied in the ration. For example, a temperature of 10°F with a wind speed of 20 mph will result in a 30% increase in requirement for a cow that has a heavy, dry hair coat. If that cow weighs 1,400 pounds then she will require an additional 4.5 lbs of TDN in late gestation and and additional 6.2 lbs. TDN in lactation. This results in the need for 6 lbs. and 9 lbs. of corn or Corn Gluten Feed (CGF).
We do not recommend feeding these levels of corn to cows. Use CGF, soyhulls, or DDGS as they will not cause a reduction in fiber digestion. It is wise to watch forecasts and plan for the colder weather. Do not vary rations greatly from day to day.
Recap for cold weather management for cattle
Cattle are hardy critters and can handle some adverse weather conditions. We, as caretakers, must be aware of the increased requirements cold stress can induce. Supplying windbreaks, covered housing, and additional energy in the ration all will help cattle come through winter in good condition and allow timely breed back in the spring.