The weather is starting to turn cold in west Texas, but livestock is holding up well this winter, Texas Cooperative Extension reports.
“Where cattle are maintained on native range, cold is a relative thing for livestock,” said Dr. Bruce Carpenter, Extension livestock specialist in Fort Stockton. “In most of Texas, animals usually do fairly well under most winter conditions.
“Make sure natural shelter is available, and when extreme winter conditions do arise, such as wind or rain, extra supplement may be needed.”
Animals such as cattle with winter coats and sheep with wool can tolerate cold weather better than other animals, Carpenter said. Angora goats and sheep recently shorn are more sensitive to the cold, especially in the spring.
“It is harder to take care of livestock in the Northeast because it is cold and wet,” Carpenter said. “It is also hard in the Panhandle because they have a cold wind.”
He said the highest concentration of mother cows is found in Texas near or east of Interstate 35. Most of the feeder and stocker cattle are found in the Panhandle and Rolling Plains areas. Most sheep and goats can be found around the Edwards Plateau region.
“Livestock are affected by the cold in different ways, depending on their species and breed,” Carpenter said. “Some common problems occur with lactating animals. Cows should probably have had the baby weaned by the time winter comes, unless they are on high quality winter pasture.”
In Far west Texas, hay is not a common feed for livestock. However, during the winter some extra nutrients such as protein and vitamin A may be needed, Carpenter said.
In central and eastern regions in Texas, there is often an opportunity to provide improved cool-season forage such as green clover and ryegrass, he said.
Galen Chandler, district Extension director in Vernon, said cattle remain in fair condition but supplemental feeding is continuing. Producers continue to cull herds and ship nonproductive cows, he said.
Cool-season grasses and winter forages are growing and are improving range and pasture conditions, Chandler said. Pastures that have been overgrazed are much slower to respond to the improved growing conditions.
Randy Upshaw, district Extension director in Dallas, said most bermudagrass is dormant. Late-planted ryegrass and winter grasses are doing well, he said.
Livestock remain in fair to good condition, although coats are getting heavier, Upshaw said. Hay supplies are adequate for now.
Bob Robinson, district Extension director in Amarillo, said wheat is providing good grazing for stocker cattle in some areas. Greenbugs continue to cause damage in a few fields.
He said cattle conditions continue to decline but are still rated fair to good.
Scott Durham, district Extension director in San Angelo, said most range and pastures remain in poor condition. Some improvement has been seen in areas that have received significant moisture, he said. Livestock remain in fair to good condition.
Joe Pena, Extension economist in Uvalde, said rainfall in November and December has been above average, and together with the cool, but milder winter, forage availability is above average. He said pastures and ranges are making good progress.
Supplemental feeding has been reported in the Panhandle, South Plains, Rolling Plains, North, Far West, Coastal Bend, and west central and south regions.