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How long can cattle survive without drinking water in freezing temps?


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#1 Tx Jim

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Posted 14 February 2021 - 09:34 AM

How do range cattle in the Northwestern states get water in the Winter when the temperature is below freezing? Can cows get sufficient moisture from snow to not dehydrate?

Thanks,Jim



#2 carcajou

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Posted 14 February 2021 - 12:20 PM

All our livestock have access to heated drinking bowls,  or if needed we chop a hole in a spring or dugout.  Cows can  make it on snow for awhile but we try to avoid that if possible.

 

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#3 PaulN

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Posted 14 February 2021 - 12:34 PM

Cattle can survive on snow if they have to. It's a learned behavior, not something they will do naturally. I wouldn't consider it the best practice.

 

Three years ago, one of my neighbors bought some cows in mid December. While they were unloading them, the dog took after one, and the cow ran into the woods, across the section, and finally ended up at my place. We tried to get her in with my cattle several times, but by this time she was so spooked, she had turned into a wild animal. She was in our fields and woods for 3 weeks with no open water, and survived. Finally, the only way to catch her was to shoot her. The cow had lost considerable weight, but she did survive without open water. 



#4 danwi

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Posted 14 February 2021 - 01:14 PM

They use a lot more energy to keep themselves warm if they are forced to rely on snow for water. If you think about a deer running wild it would find a water source but a cow locked in a pasture may not have that option.



#5 clowers

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Posted 16 February 2021 - 11:17 PM

Jim, I had to break my pond today for my cattle to drink from



#6 Tx Jim

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 08:41 AM

I filled water trough yesterday then called my cows up by trough. 25% drank water remainder looked around. I guess the other cows weren't thirsty.

 

I guess it gets back to old saying ""one can lead a cow to water but you can't force them to drink""!!!. I'll attempt to put out some water today again.

 

It's very difficult to prepare for record setting 0°F weather with wind chill at -18°F in North Central Texas. BUT things are looking a lot better


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#7 chevytaHOE5674

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 09:59 AM

I have cows that survive all winter on snow as I've never seen them drink from the hole in the pond I keep chopped open. They do just fine.

#8 KS John

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 11:45 AM

It's very difficult to prepare for record setting 0°F weather with wind chill at -18°F in North Central Texas. BUT things are looking a lot better

I have cut ice for 10 days in a row. Looks like another 3 or 4 to go. I worry more about when it starts to thaw and they get out on the pond. This is hard on a flatlander!
My dad said he remembers cutting ice for 40 days in a row in the 70's.



#9 carcajou

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 11:53 AM

I have cut ice for 10 days in a row. Looks like another 3 or 4 to go. I worry more about when it starts to thaw and they get out on the pond. This is hard on a flatlander!
My dad said he remembers cutting ice for 40 days in a row in the 70's.

Might want to put up some panels or something to fence it off.  If they are not used to frozen ponds and the ice is thin look out.   A friend and his partner lost over 100 bison one day when they got out on the dugout and their weight collapsed the ice.  



#10 PaulN

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 12:26 PM

I feel your pain Jim. 

 

Even though I'm a native Minnesotan, it's still painful to go through a prolonged cold spell. Yesterday we got above zero for the first time since last Thursday. It sure felt good.

 

On the plus side, now you've got a story to tell.  "I remember back in the winter of 2021, it was soooo cold........."

 

Paul


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#11 CowboyRam

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 06:26 PM

The other day I seen a cool method of keeping the stock tanks from freezing; the guy put in a electric trolling motor in his take.  Keep the water moving and it won't freeze.   

 

We are lucky here, as we have open water; we tapped into our drain line coming out of our field; we have a low voltage pump powered by solar panels backed up with batteries, it works really well.  I don't have enough battery to keep it running all night, but once the sun come out in the morning it does not take long for incoming water to melt the ice.  

 

When my dad was a young man working on a ranch out on the Sweetwater of Wyoming he talks about chopping a trough in the ice, carrying sand out on the ice so the cows would not slip and then chopping a hole in the ice.  They watered the cows this way everyday during the winter.  There was not one cowboy that quit because of the cold when they had to ride that desert.  Dad talks about breaking of icicles off his horses nose 12 inches long.   They were out there two weeks straight during the winter round up; only getting inside once a day to eat their evening meal.   



#12 U Lazy V Ranch

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Posted 18 February 2021 - 12:11 PM

We're lucky enough to have a couple electric heated water fountains available, within walking distance for 3 of our winter feeding grounds. That being said, where they're at right now, I fed within 25' of the fountain and they walked back into the willows when they got their belly full and drank out of a spring that doesn't freeze.  On the other end of the feed meadows ( couple miles away), we had a small earth quake about 10 years ago, and one of the creek bends now has a nice warm spring. It's not hot and no taste, but when it's -20+, you can see the steam rising from the temp difference. I'll take it!

John


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#13 vhaby

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 01:44 AM

After the drought of 2011 during which Auburn Creek that normally flows all year dried up, we installed a solar powered pump in an uncapped well on our ranch. Water is pumped about 2200 feet to two troughs that hold about 450 gallons each. During last week's bitter cold (for Texas) that well provided water for our cattle and for household use when the electricity was off for 48 hours and pipes froze.






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