HAWARDEN, Iowa (KTIV) - It's that time of year when temperatures can fall well below zero. But, for Siouxland livestock producers that doesn't mean they get to stay inside where it's warm. They still have to go out and brave the frigid weather.
Not much stops him. He's out rain or shine, in the scorching heat and now in the freezing cold. But that's his job. For Wayne Dekkers of rural Hawarden, Iowa it is a passion that has been passed down from generation to generation. Wayne Dekkers says, "Well I guess in my situation I was born and raised that way. my grandfather fed cattle my dad fed cattle."
The Dekkers have about 3000 cattle on their farm. Wayne Dekkers says, "We start first thing in the morning and feed the cattle, we get that done first. And then the cattle are all checked the pens are walked, and checking the health of the cattle."
And, that process takes about three hours but when it's cold they bed the cattle about twice a week. This not only helps to keep them warm but has other benefits as well.
Wayne Dekkers says, "It's very important to keep the cattle dry that their hair coat doesn't get wet and matted down. So you want to keep bedding in the yard, keep their body temperature up. Keep them comfortable anytime you stress cattle you loose rate of gain."
Dekkers says if the cattle's rate of weight gain drops it actually costs him more money because it takes the cattle longer to reach their market weight. Another important thing to watch... the cattle's water. It needs to be check to make sure that it's thawed. To help with that the Dekkers have heated fountains that are controlled by a thermostat. But when heavy snow starts pilling up it's important to keep the feed bunks open so for that...
Wayne Dekkers says, "We have ah, it's a bunk blower. It's PTO driven it mounts on the back of one of the tractors. It blows and extreme amount of air out of a pipe. And we just run it along each bunk and it actually blows the snow out of the feed bunk, where they eat."
And when the snow starts to pile up in the lots it has to be hauled out by the truck load.
Travis Olson says, "Beyond the cold and the care of the cattle, Wayne says another concern is the diesel tanks on the trucks and tractors...gelling up in the extreme temperatures. For the News Channel 4, Siouxland Ag Report, near Hawarden, Iowa. Travis Olson, Farmers Coop Society."