Joan RuskampThanks to the Omaha World Herald, “The Public Pulse” for posting this last Thursday.

About this time every year, I begin to get surprised looks from people when I talk about all the activities happening on my family’s farm near Dodge, Neb. My husband, and I feed cattle and raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa. While the crops may not require a great deal of attention in the winter months, animal care on our farm is a top priority 365 days a year.

My many responsibilities include walking through the cattle every morning, no matter the weather conditions, to make sure each animal is healthy. If a sick animal needs antibiotics, we always adhere to label use under our veterinarian’s supervision. We also adhere to strict withdrawal times, or a set number of days that must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply.

cattle coatsEven though cattle have hair coats designed to handle living outdoors, we take extra care in winter to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. We provide extra bedding and windbreaks to help block the extreme cold. In addition to shoveling our driveway, we must remove or pile snow in the pens so cattle have dry places to lie down. And even during a snowstorm, cattle must be fed at their normal times with continuous access to water.

fresh water 2So, even though the winter weather might make you want to stay bundled up inside, know that farmers are braving the elements to make sure the animals are well cared for — because healthy animals equal healthy food for our families.

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