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Local News

January 24, 2013

Local animal owners battle bitter freeze

Coping with cold could be second nature for some larger domestic animals, which grow winter coats and seek shelter from the wind.

But some smaller pets, such as dogs, may need extra protection when the temperature drops and winds rise, officials said. Animals — and the humans who care for them — will be dealing with bitter temperatures in the forecast for today and into the weekend.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton issued a wind chill advisory from 2 a.m. to 11 a.m. today for the area. A polar air mass blamed for multiple deaths in the Midwest moved into the Northeast on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Locally, today’s high temperatures will be near 10 degrees, the NWS said, with northwest winds gusting up to 30 mph, creating a wind chill effect as low as minus 16 degrees. With lows projected tonight at about minus 5 degrees, the wind chill effect is forecast tonight as low as minus 19 degrees.

Dairy and beef cattle have "genuine cowhide coats" that buffer them from weather, Paul Cerosaletti, educator with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, said Wednesday, quoting his college professor.

Most dairy cows locally are housed in barns, Cerosaletti said, and cold temperatures, instead of threatening the health of animals, are more likely to pose logistical challenges for dairy farmers. Feeding equipment, including water sources, may freeze or break, he said, and tractors also can be affected when temperatures drop.

"The cold weather, surprisingly enough, is not so much of an issue for the cattle," Cerosaletti said. "Calves are more affected by the cold."

For winter-weather protection, calves are fed more, housed in barns or hutches and provided plenty of bedding, Cerosaletti said. And they can wear calf coats or jackets to help stay warm.

Beef cattle, which are raised outside year-round, can take the cold temperatures outside "pretty well,’’ with extra feed for energy and a shelter to protect them from the wind, he said.

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