Local dairy farmers brace for dangerous cold weather, keeping animals safe

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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — The incoming wind chills are bad enough for humans but for animals out on the farm, the cold can easily become a life-or-death situation.

Complicating matters, this is the time of year that calves are born to cows.

Farmers at Be Whole Again Farm in Excelsior Springs considered their options on Thursday night before a wind chill warning took effect at midnight.

Wind chill temperatures are expected to dip below -10 degrees going into the weekend.

Their cows group together inside of their barn which has a big open hole on one side. Normally this set-up is a good thing because it allows for ventilation so cows don’t develop lung issues.

But because of the expected wind chill, farmer Rachel Moser planned to make a temporary wall – covering the hole with tarps recycled from old billboards.

“I heard someone say that their cow went down on some ice and he watched it fall and it broke a rib. The rib punctured its lung and it was dead in five minutes,” Moser said.

“I mean, I definitely am losing sleep right now. Like I will come out and check on animals. We had a cow calf this morning,” Moser said.

Calves are born wet and slimy which is dangerous with our region’s cold temperatures. Mosers said they use towels and  a blow dryer to help the mother cow who would typically lick them clean.

“Compared to a beef animal, beef animals have way more fat on them. Just way more muscle in general,” Moser said.

“Is there anything that they do that indicates to you that you really need to be keeping your eye on them?” FOX4 asked.

“Yeah, there’s certain visual cues in terms of like everything is freezing and they’re breathing and there’s like icicles on their face. Then you know it’s really cold. Their ears will go droopy,” Moser said.

“They can just slip and break a hip, break a rib, break a leg, and then their hooves don’t do very well. It’s just painful. I’ve actually been keeping a momma cow in with my babies at night just to act as a heater,” Moser said.

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