Dairy cattle take on the frigid temps - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dairy cattle take on the frigid temps

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Iowans aren't the only ones feeling the chill. 

The more than 175 million livestock animals in Iowa are also facing the freezing temps.

KWWL's Jessica Hartman spent the afternoon with a local dairy farmer to find out how the cattle are fighting extreme cold.

The cows at Hansen's Dairy Farm are protected from the harsh wind, but that is about it

The cows spend the winter months in a barn with temps matching those outside, made visible by their breath.

When it is about 20 degrees out, the cattle are fine to get outside and play in the snow and get some exercise. But when it is as cold as it is has been the last couple of days, they have to stay in the barn cooped up and of course they get a little restless and playful.

The cows do get a break from the cold twice a day when they enter the milking parlor. Their body heat quickly warms the small enclosed space.

"In the wintertime the cows eat more because they are trying to stay warm. The more they eat the more the cows milk. Versus the summer time, we usually get 10 lbs less milk per cow," said Hansen's Dairy Farm's Blake Hansen.

Despite the benefit of the cold increasing production, it also forces producers to take precautions.

"Big thing we've got to watch out for is frostbite on their teats," said Hansen.

To prevent frostbite, cornstarch is placed on the teats after milking to help dry up the extra moisture.

Calving is another big worry. Producers have to make sure the babies get dry right away after birth.

"It is interesting when they are born they are born with a winter coat. In the summer time somehow the mothers know and they have short hair," said Hansen.

Next door, in a heated barn of their own and out of their natural habitat, the Hansen's pet kangaroos love getting out to play in the snow.

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