In the Zone: Comfortable Cattle in the Thermoneutral Zone
Cattle have a thermoneutral zone where they are most comfortable. That’s why it is so important to be aware of how the structures they live in can contribute to that feeling of comfort. An animal’s thermoneutral zone is the temperature range in which they don’t have to expend energy to maintain normal body temperature. For healthy cattle, that temperature is between 32 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. With a dry heavy winter hair-coat, their lower critical temperature can be as low as 18 degrees.
Temperature, moisture, and wind all play a role in compromising cattle’s level of comfort.
According to the Extension Service, cold stress (lower critical temperature) occurs when an animal is exposed to weather conditions that put it below its lower critical temperature. To maintain core body temperature when it is cold, cattle shiver to maintain body temperature, and that requires energy. Extra energy translates into extra feedstuffs that are needed to compensate for shivering.
Also, if cattle are wet and unsheltered from wind, their lower critical temperature can raise to as high as 60 degrees, greatly increasing their cold stress. And when there is stress, there are fewer profits.
That’s where the importance of the housing comes in – and how a facility can become a practical tool to control some of the variables of production. For cow/calf producers and cattle feeders alike, a monoslope structure provides an ideal indoor/outdoor environment. It allows you to bring your beef cattle inside to improve cattle comfort, performance and quality. At the same time, by the nature of the structure itself, monoslopes allow the benefits of fresh air and air movement of the great outdoors.
Moving cattle into a monoslope can improve feed efficiency by as much as 20% over an outside lot in the Northern Corn Belt region. With a 1,000-head farm, that translates into a savings of $150,000 per year.
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Do you have more questions that are not covered in this article? If you need help designing and planning, please contact Summit Livestock Facilities at 800.213.0567 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our customer engagement team will help you determine the next steps of your project.