Bitterly cold temperatures, schools closing, and severe warnings to stay indoors, the polar vortex that parked over the Midwest between January 29th-31st, 2019 brought with it low temperatures that have not been seen in the region for decades.
Temperatures in Grant County, WI on January 30th 2019 went well below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, not including wind chill.
Temperatures in Grant County, WI on January 31sth 2019 are steady at about -5 degrees Fahrenheit.
We used a Wisconsin herd’s health report to gauge the impact of the severe cold on the cows.
The monitoring system gives a health score to every cow in the herd. A score of 100 means that she is behaving as we would expect a perfectly healthy cow to behave. A score of 0 means that she is in really bad shape.
The health report lists only those cows with a score of 86 and lower. The report further ranks the individual cows by color (in right most column). Red means that she needs to be seen urgently. Yellow means that this in not an emergency but she would need to be seen within a few hours. And white means she is just a little off—many farmers say the cows in the white group are “just not feeling like coming to work today.”
Despite the fact that cows are most comfortable in cold weather, it appears that when temperatures reach -23 degrees (without windchill) cows really don’t “feel like coming to work.” Very much like our office staff on that same day!
There are 27 cows on the report below.
January 30th, 2019 health report, farm in Grant County, Wisconsin.
On January 31, 2019, only ten cows appeared on the same farm’s health report. Note that cow 5092, that was categorized in the red zone on January 30th, improved drastically the next day. All the way into the yellow zone.
January 31st, 2019 health report, outdoor temperature increase by about 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cows may like cold weather, but even for them the polar vortex may be a bit too much to handle!
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