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Olmsted County beef farmer talks about challenges caring for livestock during extreme cold

NEAR ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The extreme cold this past week has been tough on many. Farmers brave the elements every day make sure their equipment is operational and their animals are safe, watered, and fed.

Bill Kuisle is a long time beef and dairy farmer. His small operation is only beef cattle these days. He says for the most part, the cows don't mind the cold too much, it's the equipment that takes the biggest beating from the cold.

Still, the animals aren't immune from the cold like we've experienced this past week. Kuisle says one thing that's done to help keep the cattle warm, is making sure fresh bedding is down before the cold weather hits.

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"We don't like it, as humans, but the cattle actually do better when it just stays in that sub-freezing level," Kuisle said.

Like humans, beef cattle learn to adapt when the seasons change.

"I'm not going to say they don't get cold, I mean they definitely get cold but they do put on extra fat and also their hair gets longer, which they shed come spring," Kuisle said. "So they do adapt to it."

Kuisle says certain breeds of cattle, like black angus, tolerate the cold weather better than others, such as Holsteins.

However, his farm equipment can't adapt on its own.

"Diesels do not start in the cold,' Kuisle said. "And the tractor and the skid steer, you always have them plugged in. But the diesel engines can be a pain. You get the gelling if you don't have the fuel mix right. Hydraulics are slower. Everything takes longer when it's this cold and that's where it gets to be a pain."

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While Kuisle's small operation gives him the ability to mix his feed up ahead of time and limit his time outside in the frigid weather, the negative temperatures still make for a tough day on the job.

"This is nothing," Kuisle said comparing his workload to dairy farmer sor other larger beef operations. "It gets old, especially fighting the equipment."

And while we may be looking forward to the warmer temperatures this week, Kuisle says it's better for the cattle when temperatures stay rather consistent. The fluctuations make the cattle more susceptible to getting sick.

Sarah Gannon

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