Established tree windbreaks sheltering beef and dairy cattle operations can save producers money on feed costs, weight loss and milk production during the winter months.
A heavy winter coat protects beef cattle until temperatures drop below 18 degrees Fahrenheit, but beyond that point, Bob Atchison with the Kansas Forest Service said the animals require additional feed to maintain body temperatures. The presence of a windbreak can help remedy this problem.
“A 25 mph wind at zero degrees Fahrenheit creates a windchill of 44 degrees below zero,” said Atchison. “By contrast, a properly designed windbreak will reduce the same windchill to 15 degrees below zero.”
Atchison said windbreaks can reduce the spike in energy requirements cattle need to maintain their body temperature during extreme cold weather. He cited Canadian researchers who found that cattle on winter range, in unprotected sites, required a 50 percent increase in feed for normal activities.