Windbreaks (natural or man-made) can be important since wind chill increases the energy requirement of cattle. Cattle depend upon their hair coats to keep heat in and cold out. Hair is effective in keeping cattle warm, unless it gets wet and flattens which lets moisture next to the skin. If cattle are wet, or the wind blows enough to separate the hair, they are more susceptible to cold. Thin, hungry cattle are even more vulnerable. We must, at the very least, increase feed (especially energy supplementation) during periods of severely cold weather.
Barns and feeding areas which protect cattle from severe weather and mud can be beneficial and environmentally desirable by managing manure and runoff. These barns offer the added benefit of keeping cattle dry during wet, cold weather. Since newborn calves are the most vulnerable to cold weather, calving barns that have facilities and equipment for "pulling" calves and are cleanly bedded may also be helpful for spring calving herds.
We don't normally need a lot of housing for beef cattle but things haven't been normal lately. This winter tested our resolve but it may have also pointed out some of the weaknesses in our programs. We want to keep cattle comfortable and healthy anyway but increased value of cattle gives us even more incentive to do just that. We can learn from the past as we enjoy new grass and sunshine