Cattle Producers Bracing For Storm's Effect On Calves

Thursday, January 28th 2010, 12:29 am
By: News 9

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma cattle producers are bracing for the winter storm, which could prove to be more difficult than the Christmas Eve blizzard, especially after calving season has started for many producers, and new calves are vulnerable to extreme cold and ice.

"When you've got a wind chill plus ice and all that, it doesn't take long for a calf to die. It's about 15 minutes," said herdsman Mick Douglas, Express Ranches in Yukon.

Douglas checks on the pregnant cows every two hours but said he will step up efforts during the freeze.

"Since January 1, we've had about 500 calves born and we've got a lot more to do," said Vice President of Operations Kevin Hafner.

Both Douglas and Hafner said as long as they can get the newborn calves dried off quickly, they should be okay.

"It's that first hour of trying to get them dried off to keep them from losing ears and us from losing calves to freeze," Douglas said.

However, concerns are growing about the possibility of losing power. The 20 wells that water Express Ranches in Yukon need electricity to run. Wednesday, workers tested the eight generators that will be used as backup should power go out.

"It's going to be a balancing act to see to get water to everything if we do lose power. Power is the biggest concern. When you lose power, you lose efficiency," Hafner said.

While Express Ranches is preparing for the winter blast and are concerned about the ice, they said it will be a more difficult situation for smaller operations if the storm hits as hard as expected.