The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 23, 2014

Cold temperatures affect local farming operations

BEAVERTOWN — With extremely low temperatures gripping the Valley, agriculture officials are cautioning area livestock farmers to take measures to protect animals from the sub-zero arctic air and wind chill that can cause their animals to suffer from cold-related stress.

“Owners must monitor their animals during these extreme temperatures,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig .

Andy Mussoline, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, said tonight’s low will hit 3 degrees and, when combined with the wind chill, will feel like minus 14 degrees.

Animals kept in temperatures below freezing are susceptible to hypothermia, which can result in frostbite to their extremities and lifethreatening respiratory and heart rates.

Symptoms of hypothermia include shiver­ ing, lethargy, low heart rate and unresponsiveness. Farmers are urged to contact a veterinarian immediately if their animal is showing such signs. 

Animal comfort is a top priority for Valley farmers. 

“The key to keeping livestock safe during intense winter conditions is providing the animals shelter from freezing temperatures and high winds,” said Mark O’Neill, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. “Livestock and pets can quickly become distressed.

Dairy farmers and cattle producers house animals in barns that provide adequate protection from cold stress by reducing exposure to inclement weather conditions, he said.

Aside from adequate shelter, farmers want to make sure that animals have dry bedding, access to fresh water and food. 

“It’s especially important to provide livestock with quality feed, because extremely cold conditions often increase energy needs for animals to maintain normal body functions,” O’Neill said. 

“Keep in mind that large dairy cows and other cattle, which weigh between 800 and 1,600 pounds, are not usually bothered by colder temperatures, but with extremely cold temperatures and sub-zero wind chills, it’s important that they have access to fresh water and good feed.” 

Most chickens and pigs are housed in climate-controlled barns. 

Animals should be moved indoors if possible. Ensure proper ventilation for animals kept indoors and have backup power generation systems in place should an electrical outage occur.

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