According to Mary Drewnoski, University of Nebraska Beef Systems Specialist, stress from cold weather increases a cows energy requirements and can pull down her body condition. Many cow/calf producers will experience this issue this winter. While we dont know what mother nature has in store for us this year, it is good to have a plan. A good start is to evaluate body condition score (BCS) now, and if cows are not at a 5 to 5.5 body condition score, then take steps to improve things before cold weather hits.
The threshold at which cattle have to start using energy to maintain their body temperature is called the lower critical temperature (LCT). Cows in good condition and which have a heavy winter coat that is dry, do not need to use extra energy to maintain body temperature until the wind chill index is below 19°.
A thin cow with a body condition score of 4 and a dry winter coat has a lower critical temperature of 27° versus the 19° of a cow with a body condition score 5. Getting cows into good condition early in the winter can be useful for managing in bad weather.