Cattle can handle fairly cold temperatures, but extra measures are needed when the temperature hits -20 or colder.
Jordan Johnson, a livestock and feed extension specialist, says animals start preparing for the cold through a process called 'photoperiod sensitivity'.
"As the days become shorter, they actually upregulate hair growth. For most animals this time of year, the days are slowly starting to get longer, but they'll have pretty substantial winter coats to keep them warm. Another big part of adapting to the cold is upregulating their energy consumption. So to stay warm a lot of livestock actually need to eat more and that heat of digestion is the biggest factor keeping them warm."
She says producers want to ensure that they are offering their cattle high quality, very digestible feed and that they have free choice to that.
"Allowing them to eat unrestricted will allow them to kind of maintain their body heat throughout the day through fermentation. We also suggest that for every 10° drop in temperature below -10 would be to add 1 kilogram of grain."
Johnson says she's hoping that producers kind of planned for the cold snap and have been adding grain and adapting it into the animals' diet.
She notes they want to be cognizant of not rapidly adding grain to the diet. A maximum of 5 lbs added to their ration will allow them to maintain their body temperature there through fermentation and supplying adequate energy for them.
For most producers, the cold snap isn't coming at a time when newborn calves are hitting the ground, and those who are expecting calves are well set up with facilities to to accommodate that.
She notes it's also important animals have free access to shelter to get out of the wind and a good, clean water supply.
"Providing adequate shelter from the wind will allow animals to really retain their body heat better too. And of course, offering clean bedding.will allow them to kind of bed down during the coldest parts of the day and conserve their body heat."
More information on winter feeding and management can be found here Winter Feeding | Feeding Livestock During Feed Shortages | Government of Saskatchewan