West Texas feedyards to needed to make adjustments during winter storm

Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:24 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Area feedyards were among the many businesses to make adjustments during last week’s winter storm.

Kevin Buse, owner and general manager at Champion Feeders says his feedyard is used to cold winters in the Texas panhandle.

“That’s what we do. When we see storms like this coming on, we’ve got a plan and we enact that plan,” said Buse.

One thing not typically done at Champion Feeders during a winter storm is curtailing natural gas. Something the feedyard was asked to do by its local gas provider.

“We pulled back on some of our flaking processes that require a boiler and steam. Obviously, that’s fired by natural gas. It’s something that given what we knew and as cold as it was getting, we needed to make sure we were doing our part that we had enough gas to heat homes,” said Buse.

Buse says in all his years he has never had to curtail gas.

As for the cows, an area cattle expert says the cold likely had little impact on them.

“Cattle are actually comfortable at temperature that are a lot lower than we are. Just above freezing cattle might still be comfortable where we would be pretty cold,” said Jason Smith, assistant professor and extension beef cattle specialist, Texas A&M AGRILIFE Extension.

Smith says cows will typically eat more food to gain weight and stay warmer.

Something that cows in feedyards are doing regardless of the temperature.

“They are very resilient to low temperatures. They are also unique as their digestive system acts somewhat like a heater,” said Smith.

Smith says the rapid change in weather from cold to warm is almost more dangerous to the health of cattle.

“Cattle are creatures of habit. So, it takes them a longer time to adapt to change, arguably longer than a lot of other animals. So, when they have these extreme changes in a short amount of time, that tends to be stressful for them,” said Smith.

As for the aftermath of area feedyards conserving gas and energy.

“Probably the larger impact of this, from an economic standpoint would be on the cattle feeding and the packing side of things because with the energy restrictions, feedyards were required to essentially change rations,” said Smith.

Smith says the greatest thing consumers would notice is a short period of time where grocery stores were a little barer than normal.

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