Key Benefits:
  • Block wind
  • Windscreen or shade for livestock
  • Cuts down on sick livestock
  • Control manure distribution
  • Creates visual barriers for crowding pens, gates, chute and alleyways


One of the key effects of cold temperatures on cows is the need for increased energy for maintenance. Oklahoma State University Extension reports note that 32 degrees Fahrenheit is generally considered the lower critical limit for cows with dry, winter hair coats, meaning that energy needs increase below that temperature. Researchers use a rule of thumb that a cow’s energy requirements increase 1 percent for each degree the wind chill drops below freezing.

OSU provides the following sample calculation for a cow with a winter dry hair coat:

  • Cow’s lower critical temperature is 32 degrees F.
  • Expected wind chill from weather reports is 4 degrees in this example.
  • Calculate the magnitude of the cold: 32 degrees – 4 degrees = 28 degrees.
  • Energy adjustments is 1 percent for each degree magnitude of cold for 28 percent.
  • Feed cows 128 percent of daily energy amount. If a cow were to receive 16 pounds of high quality grass/legume hay; then feed 20.5 pounds of hay during a cold weather event.

Research indicates that energy requirements for maintenance of beef cows with a wet hair coat is much greater and begin to take effect at 59 degrees F. Rather than trying to meet extreme increases in energy needs during bad weather, OSU specialists suggest using smaller increases in energy requirements during a weather event, and extending that increase into more pleasant weather to help regain energy lost during the storm.

Table 1
Critical temperatures for beef cattle are determined in part by the condition of the coat. Below the critical temperature, livestock must expend more energy in order to keep warm.

Coat Description Critical Temperature 
Summer Coat or Wet
Fall Coat
Winter Coat
Heavy Winter Coat
59 Degrees F
45 Degrees F
32 Degrees F
18 Degrees

Adapted from D.R. Ames, Kansas State University

Kansas cattle producers indicate that on average, calving success increases by 2 percent if cows are protected by a windbreak. Canadian researchers found that cattle on winter range, in unprotected sites, required a 50 percent increase in feed for normal activities. An additional 20 percent increase was necessary to overcome the direct effects of exposure to a combination of cold temperatures and wind. Wind protection reduced these needs by half.

The amount of feed required to maintain body temperature in cattle is reduced when they are protected by windbreaks. For example, and 880-pound animal, with its winder coat, has a critical temperature of 32 degrees (table 1) and requires 1.1 percent more feed per degree of cold (table 3) if the temperature is 10 degrees and the wind speed is 10 miles per hour, the wind chill temperature is 9 degrees below zero (table 2) and the animal needs 45 percent more feed (critical temperature minus wind chill temperature times increased feed requirement). If this same animal were protected by a windbreak providing a 70 percent reduction in wind speed, the wind chill factor would change from minus 9 degrees to 2 degrees above zero. The degrees of cold would be 30 and the increase feed requirement would be only 33 percent, a savings of 12 percent. Colder temperatures or higher wind speeds would result in larger savings due to windbreak protection.

Table 2
Animal wind-chill chart. As temperature decreases and wind speed increases, the danger to animals becomes greater.


Researchers at Purdue University found that energy requirements for cows in good condition increased 13 percent for each degree drop in wind chill temperature below 30 degrees. A similar study in Iowa on calves and yearlings indicated that requirements for feed were 7 percent greater for those in open lots than for similar animals with shelter. Studies in Montana indicated that during mild winters, beef cattle sheltered by windbreaks gained an average of 34 to 35 pounds more than cattle in an open feedlot. During severe winters, cattle in feedlots protected from the wind, maintained 10.6 more pounds than cattle in unprotected lots.




Key Benefits:

  • Block wind
  • Cuts down on sick livestock
  • Control manure distribution
  • Eliminate blowing sand
  • Reduce wind
  • Windscreen or shade for livestock
  • Works great for round pens and roping arenas
  • Creates visual barriers for crowding pens, gates, chutes and alleyways


Click here to read more about windscreens and other uses.



This tough, lightweight polypropylene material is effective as an 80% sun screen. Durability is insured with 2” reinforced edges and grommets approximately every 2’. This screen can also be utilized down the side as an effective wind screen.


Click here to read more about windscreens and other uses.

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