Today we received our first snow of the season. I don't know what it is but it seems like the first snow of the winter always catches us off guard and seems really cold. In any case we woke up to a cold, wet snow this morning and here on the ranch that puts several things into gear.
First, we know that our animals are using more energy keeping themselves warm. That means we need to increase their energy intake. This morning the calves received more grain, the cows got a good bale of brome grass hay (it is higher in energy and protein than our native prairie hay) and the sheep got an alfalfa bale (alfalfa is even higher in protein and energy than brome grass).
Next we made sure they had plenty of clean, fresh water. Even though it is cold, animals need to keep up their water consumption so they don't get dehydrated. Plenty of water keeps them warmer and also keeps them healthier.
Finally we spend much more time walking through our animals and watch them much more closely. We look for the early signs of illness and distress. When we do notice the signs of illness we treat them with the appropriate medicine. Our modern veterinary medicine is completely safe for both the animals and the people who eat their meat. The drugs are tested and re-tested, all label restrictions are followed and we only use them when they are absolutely needed to save the animal's life.
Keep in mind that all of this is done in cold, wet conditions. It would be much easier to stay inside next to the wood stove, warm dry and comfortable. However, we know that it is our calling in life to watch over these animals and provide for them, keeping them healthy and comfortable while they are with us. That is the story of the protein on your table tonight.