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Cattle comfort food? Cows need calories

People might be heading to the gym to work off holiday treats, but cattle are still looking to bulk up as a deep freeze settles over much of the Prairies.

Agriculture experts and ranchers know that when the temperature dips below -20 C, cows need to eat even more so that they can create extra energy to stay warm.

Murray Feist with Saskatchewan Agriculture says the general rule of thumb is to feed an additional 450 grams of grain for every five degrees below -20 C.

Temperatures in much of Saskatchewan and Manitoba have dipped to near or below -30 C and wind chills are at -40 C to -45 C.

Feist says hay quality in Western Canada is usually enough to maintain a cow in winter, but a denser grain such as barley or oats is needed on colder days.

Other factors to consider are whether there is shelter from the wind and the condition of a cow, including whether it's pregnant or providing milk for a calf.

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