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Friday, May 6, 2016

A basic approach to frostbite

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No one likes the cold weather and what it can cause if precautions are not taken to prevent frostbite from impacting a farm.

Frostbite can impact a farm in many ways. One way would be if the farmer's family doesn't take precautions to stay warm when they are outside. The other is by hurting newborn livestock.

Frostbite is the term used when body tissue becomes frozen. Extremities, like ears, tails, feet, teats and scrotums are most at risk. Often, frostbitten ears and tails only cause appearance problems, but don't harm the animal's performance. If the feet become frozen, the animal will often have to be euthanized. When an animal's teats or scrotums are impacted, you will notice some problems associated with mastitis, loss of milk production and reproduction issues.

Therefore, there are many reasons to keep your animals indoors when they are young.

If you notice an animal having issues with the cold temperatures, try to warm it up. Try to thaw the tissue as quickly as possible.

One approach to quickly warm a newborn is by placing it on the floor board of a pickup truck with the heater on high. Another approach is to use a hair dryer. By using a hair dryer, you are both warming the animal and drying it off which is important. If the animal is not wet, but is cold, you can try using a heat lamp. There are times when you can use a warm water bath to warm a very cold newborn quickly.

However, you must be extremely careful with this approach because it can sometimes result in death of the animal. Finally, once you have the animal thawed and in good condition, take special precautions to prevent it from being impacted by the cold again.

There are a few ways that you can prevent frostbite from occurring. First, when the wind chill is below 20-degrees, provide your animals with a windbreak.

If the wind chill gets below 10-degrees, then provide them with bedding. Often, you can break apart a dry round bale of hay or straw in order to provide the bedding needed.

Wood shavings are not the best option since a newborn can potentially swallow it and choke on the hard wood pieces. Finally, if possible, provide all animals with shelter when they are giving birth and for one more day after the birth. Additionally, make sure that the animal is given a chance to get colostrums within the first few hours of life to help them fight the elements.

If you are new to the livestock industry and would like to learn more about raising livestock, you might want to attend the Back to Basics: Novice's Guide to Farm Animals program offered by Purdue Extension in the coming weeks.

The goal of this series is to inform novice owners about the latest information and trends related to common livestock found on small farms. We want you to be comfortable about making choices about care, nutrition, housing, breeds and uses to fit your lifestyle. Livestock to be covered include goats and sheep, cattle, chickens, horses and swine.

You can attend all sessions or just one. You can even view this program at home using your home computer. The program costs $50 for all sessions and $15 for one session.

This program will take place on Monday nights from 6-8:30 p.m., starting Feb. 14. Contact Purdue Extension in Clay County (448-9041) to find out more about registering for the program and about viewing locations found in Putnam and Vermillion counties.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Jan. 28 -- Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum, Indianapolis. Go to www.indianasoybean.com/forum for more information, and

* Feb. 1 -- Purdue Master Gardener Program begins, 6-9 p.m., Owen County Extension Office.