Temperature fluctuations a worry for livestock farmers

By Patricia Grotenhuis, Lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

This winter we are experiencing unseasonal temperatures and large temperature fluctuations in our area.  People often comment on how variable temperatures can affect their health.  Did you know the same is true for animals?

Large swings in temperature mean farmers have to protect the animals against various types of illness all at the same time.  It doesn’t mean that we’ll be vaccinating our herds or flocks every time there is risk of a different illness, but instead we  work to protect our animals through management and handling practices. 

Cold winter weather, although not always pleasant, will kill certain bacteria, viruses and pests.  When the cold weather does not come and stay, an important (albeit uncontrollable) tool in pest and disease control is lost.

Our current warm winter weather, combined with the wet weather in 2011, could bring about a whole new list of pests, illnesses and other challenges for farmers to try and manage. 

So, while many Canadians celebrate the lack of cold weather and the reduced need to bundle up, our farmers are anxiously watching the weather forecast looking for a cold snap and wondering what the high temperatures now will mean in coming months.

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