Livestock Wx for 2-12-19: Above-normal Cattle Cold Stress this Winter?

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Livestock Wx for 2-12-19:  Above-normal Cattle Cold Stress this Winter?

Cattle cold-stress has been in the news lately with some saying this winter has brought some of the worst feeding conditions in a decade. We thought it might be interesting to take a look at what this looks like using one of the cattle cold stress indices. There are a few out there and we decided to look at a relatively simple one called the Cattle Cold Stress Index (CSI). 

The map below shows the CSI from November 2018 to the first week in February 2019. The meteorological components that go into the Index are wind speed, temperature and precipitation. We used these variables to calculate the index against what you normally would expect for winter (using the years 1981-2010 as reference). Just looking at the individual variables, wind speed has been higher than normal (positive anomalies in orange), and temperatures have been below-normal (negative anomalies in blue) for a large part of the major cattle feeding areas. 

For precipitation, we have seen surpluses in Nebraska and Kansas and along the southeast/East Coast (green shading). For feeding operations this has likely made for some very sloppy conditions. The CSI doesn’t quite tell the story but looking at the individual variables the data do support what many have been saying about this winter.

For those interested in a further breakdown, we looked at counties that feed greater than 10K head of cattle. These data are not perfect, however, due to some incomplete data from the 2021 USDA Census. Instead, we used cattle inventory data from USDA’s 2007 Census so take the below breakdown with some skepticism.

*Counties feeding >10K of cattle is based on USDA Census data from 2007 and may not reflect current cattle inventories.

We may do some additional analysis over the next couple of weeks looking at how variable temperature-stress has been this winter given the wide swings we have seen between above-normal temperatures one week and extremely cold temperatures the next.  

For those interested, the Oklahoma Mesonet puts out information on cattle temperature stress called the Cattle Comfort Advisor. They even have a two-day forecast. Visit for more information. -LSWx

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